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5 Questions for a Scientist: Science Communicator Jane Hu

The gap between the science classroom and a real-life career in the sciences can seem distant for some students. The 5 Questions for a Scientist interview series was created to bridge this gap! We aim to inspire students to pursue careers in the sciences by showcasing the incredible diversity of STEM careers by talking to scientists themselves.

Get to know Jane


Occupation: Science communicator
Institution: Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley and science writer at Slate magazine. In the fall, she'll be headed to the University of Washington's I-LABS to work in research outreach.
Field: Psychology
Focus: Developmental psychology

Jane is a science writer based on the West Coast. She recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a Ph.D. in psychology, and she is a 2014 AAAS Mass Media Fellow. She has written for Slate magazine, Berkeley Science Review, and the PLOS Student Blog. When she's not doing science or writing about it, she enjoys backpacking, rock climbing, and running. To learn more about Jane, check out her website or follow her on Twitter. 

1. Explain what you do in your work in one sentence (or two!).
A lot of science research is published with the assumption that only other scientists will read or be interested in the results. It's my job to present this research in a clear and interesting way so that scientists and non-scientists alike can understand and enjoy it.

2. When did you first become interested in your field?
As a teenager. I took a summer class that asked big questions about psychology—how do we know things? what makes people behave the way they do?—and wanted to know more about how psychologists could possibly answer these philosophical questions with science.

3. What is your favorite part of being a scientist or of science in general?
The excitement of being one of the first people to know a new fact about the world.

4. What is a typical day like for you as a scientist?
I split my time between conducting studies in graduate school (my research is about preschoolers, so this involves a lot of small talk about superheroes) and writing. Sometimes my writing is academic, and about my own research for scientific journals or conferences. Or it's about general science news, to be published at online outlets (anywhere from familiar news outlets like Slate to small outlets like my personal blog).

5. Do you have any advice for young people interested in science today?
You're probably already more of a scientist than you realized. If you ask questions about the world and want to answer them, you've already got all it takes. I always thought you had to have straight A's in math or science to be a scientist. That can't hurt, of course, but really all you need is a healthy sense of wonder.

Image credit: Jane Hu