173 episodes

Working Scientist is the Nature Careers podcast. It is produced by Nature Portfolio, publishers of the international science journal Nature. Working Scientist is a regular free audio show featuring advice and information from global industry experts with a strong focus on supporting early career researchers working in academia and other sectors.
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Working Scientist Nature Careers

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Working Scientist is the Nature Careers podcast. It is produced by Nature Portfolio, publishers of the international science journal Nature. Working Scientist is a regular free audio show featuring advice and information from global industry experts with a strong focus on supporting early career researchers working in academia and other sectors.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.

    A dumpster full of mercury and other things to avoid: lab closures made simple

    A dumpster full of mercury and other things to avoid: lab closures made simple

    In the fifth episode of this six-part podcast series about the late career stage, physicist María Teresa Dova outlines how she is preparing colleagues years in advance to ensure a smooth handover of her lab at the University of La Plata, in Argentina.
    But in the United States, when the principal investigator leaves it is likely the lab itself will close down, Gould discovers. For microbiologist Roberto Kolter, emeritus professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, this meant gradually downsizing his team before retirement, so all members had a clear timeframe in which to finish their work.
    Often what happens to the contents of a lab is decided by the institution. Equipment such as freezers are often given to other research groups, while unique resources — such as Kolter’s 10,000 strong collection of bacterial strains created from his years of research — are kept and managed by the institution.
    Chemist Craig Merlic, executive director of the University of California Center for Laboratory Safety in Los Angeles, stresses that it is important to think about the fate of hazardous lab materials to prevent future accidents.
    Sometimes there isn’t time to plan, as experienced by immunologist Carol Shoshkes Reiss at New York University, when she had to suddenly close her lab due to a lack of funds. Shoshkes Reiss shares the surprising feeling she experienced after this abrupt closure — relief.

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    • 23 min
    Pension planning and psychosocial support: how institutions can help academics at the late career stage

    Pension planning and psychosocial support: how institutions can help academics at the late career stage

    The list of things to organize as retirement from academia approaches can feel daunting. In the fourth episode of The last few miles, a six-part podcast series about the late career stage in science, researchers talk about health, housing and financial planning.
    Carol Shoshkes Reiss, an immunologist at New York University, explains how her institution assigns individual wealth managers to advise on retirement investments and budgeting.
    Inger Mewburn, who leads researcher training at the Australian National University in Canberra, chose a private accountant to manage her finances, who probes not only her approach to risk around investments, but also potential retirement dates and her income expectations.
    Entomologist Matan Shelomi, associate professor at the National Taiwan University in Taipei and originally a citizen of the United States, describes how he has had to amend his retirement plans as an expat academic.
    Gerontologist Stacey Gordon works with Shoshkes Reiss at New York University as part of a personalised program to support individuals with the mental and social aspects of their retirement, helping colleagues to find purpose and meaning in retirement.

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    • 23 min
    “Who am I if not a scientist?” How to find identity and purpose in retirement

    “Who am I if not a scientist?” How to find identity and purpose in retirement

    Because many scientists see their career as a calling, when retirement arrives it can bring with it feelings of insecurity and worry about what this means for them.
    Microbiologist Roberto Kolter, emeritus professor at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts, is keen to show others that retirement is a joyous time and a chance to broaden one’s scientific area of interest. It can also bring with it new speaking and travel opportunities.
    Experimental physicist Athene Donald is soon to complete a 10-year stint as master of Churchill College at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Donald tells Gould how she is handling the nervousness that comes with the arrival of a second retirement phase, and what she is doing to balance continued involvement in academia with the slower pace of life.
    Inger Mewburn, who leads research training at the Australian National University in Canberra, and Pat Thompson, education researcher at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, acknowledge how hard it can be to give up something that has given you purpose and drive for so many years.
    Some, such as Thompson, have developed hobbies alongside their working careers that they are looking forward to doing more as they step back from academia. Both Mewburn and Thompson agree that an important part of the process is figuring out which parts of your working identity, such as writer or educator, you want to carry through to retirement.
    This is the third episode of the six-part podcast series: The last few miles: planning for the late-stage career in science.

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    • 19 min
    Choose your own adventure: navigating retirement after an academic career

    Choose your own adventure: navigating retirement after an academic career

    The idea that retirement marks the end of employment and the beginning of a life of leisure is one that many academics feel is outdated.
    Roger Baldwin, a retired researcher of higher education at Michigan State University in East Lansing and chair of the US Association of Retirement Organizations in Higher Education (AROHE), a membership organization based in Los Angeles, California, describes it instead as “an open ended period after one’s main professional employment that has almost infinite potential opportunities” — academic or otherwise.
    Some take on the role of an emeritus professor, an honorary title that grants the holder continued involvement with their university. Shirley Tilghman, a molecular biologist and emeritus professor at Princeton University in New Jersey, continues to serve on university boards and advise on science policy.
    Carlos García Canal, a physicist at the University of La Plata in Argentina, took the emeritus title after forced retirement 15 years ago (aged 65) so that he could continue teaching at the institution.
    An alternative option for academics is an adjunct professorship, which human molecular biologist and geneticist Juergen Reichardt selected. It enables him to continue in a research role at the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia.
    It can be difficult deciding whether to continue with a role in academia after retiring or to switch to something different. Health and family considerations can have a big impact on this decision. As Baldwin explains, it can be hard to balance the freedom and flexibility offered by retirement with continued academic commitments.

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    • 20 min
    The last few miles: how to prepare for the late-career stage in science

    The last few miles: how to prepare for the late-career stage in science

    What are the signs that you’re transitioning from the middle to the late stage of a career in science? Is this transition something you can plan in advance, and if so, what does this look like?
    Working backwards from your planned retirement date can help you to re-evaluate your priorities and predict the challenges the next few years might bring. But in many countries there is no set retirement age, so it can be difficult to know when to start preparing.
    Scientists from across the globe talk to Julie Gould about their different approaches, from reviewing timelines and forming succession plans to returning to the lab.
    Inger Mewburn, who leads research training at the Australian National University in Canberra, and Shirley Tilghman, a molecular biologist and former president of Princeton University in New Jersey, highlight the importance of thinking about and planning for the future.
    This is the first episode of the six-part podcast series: The last few miles: planning for the late stage career in science.

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    • 10 min
    Counting the cost of fashion’s carbon footprint

    Counting the cost of fashion’s carbon footprint

    In many parts of the world these days garments are bought purely as fashion items, and discarded after just a few months or years. But as the global population grows and personal wealth levels increase, solutions are urgently needed to process increasing volumes of textile waste as consumption rises. This waste includes synthetic fibres, which do not degrade in nature.
    Sonja Salmon describes advances in enzymatic processes to deconstruct and then recycle mixed fibre garments made from both polyester and cotton, alongside the environmental costs of producing and transporting clothes in the first place. “Technically, there are going to be some challenges in it. But that’s why we’re scientists, right? That's what we do,” says Salmon, who is based at Wilson College of Textiles in Raleigh, North Carolina.
    How to Save Humanity in 17 Goals is a podcast series that profiles scientists whose work addresses one or more of the SDGs. Episodes 7–12 are produced in partnership with Nature Water, and introduced by Fabio Pulizzi, its chief editor.

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    • 22 min

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