Name: Jenni Sanderson
Job: Secondary school teacher
Source: eLife [original post from May 2016]
You balanced your research with a number of educational, environmental and humanitarian projects. How important do you think extracurricular activities are for the careers of researchers?
I think it depends on what you want to do. I have never been satisfied focusing on one thing – I find it very difficult to not get excited by something new every day. I feel like extracurricular activities are undervalued in academia as they are overshadowed by the pressure to publish, but a well-rounded researcher can provide new and unique insights into every situation.
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I left my research career with a dream to become a humanitarian worker. However, I discovered that to make that move I would have to volunteer for a couple of years before I became employable. Becoming a teacher felt like a great way to gain some transferable skills while also being quite a lot of fun!
What have you found most challenging?
Learning how to communicate science to children from a completely different background to me – I think when I started they couldn’t understand much of what I was saying. I had to learn to really listen to the students and be able to ask them the right questions that would help me to find out what they did or didn’t know already. After being surrounded by academic scientists for 10 years I have had to completely change the way that I communicate!