”In a world, where science entertains… Meet Dr Multitask, a (re)searcher, balancing on the edge of academic and beyond, teaching AND learning valuable lessons about life, science and human existence…”
Imagine this world, designed as an amusement park, with a purpose to both educate and entertain – the name is: SCI-WORLD.
This spring, a job ad was circulated by the Karolinska Institute Career Service, where a certain SCI-WORLD educational park was searching for a creative consultant. With the initial feeling of curiosity, exaltation and slight confusion, and ultimately disillusioned by a fact that it was a mere CV/interview competition and not a real job post, I nevertheless went for it. After all, this would be a test of my possibly strongest skills – scientific knowledge and the ability to assess the trends of the entertainment industry.
So, I did it. I wrote the CV and sent it. The whole thing was designed by a career coach named Barry O’Brien, a very cool and knowledgeable dude, whom I later on went to really work with – more on that in near future!
Anyways, the job seekers would submit their CVs and cover letters, and then six candidates were selected for the first round of interviews, which included a group pre-session about avoiding the biggest job interview mistakes. I made it to the first round, and to the second one too – when we were only three. I didn’t win though.
Barry later told me that all of us ”top 3” were very good, and that only nuances ultimately prevailed upon choosing the winner 🙂 The second round of the competition required a bit more than just an interview: it was more a display of creative skills and a quite a bit of improv. We were instructed to create a 10 minute presentation about ‘our zone’ within the SCI-WORLD Park. The presentation was to be focused on the following areas:
– What your zone is called and why
– An explanation of an experiment you would show to a live audience
– How many people would work in your zone and why
– How you would promote your zone across social media, with an example of an actual ‘real’ theme park campaign (our competitor)
My imagining of a scientific theme park was probably overambitious: it included a lasertag-like live game coupled to a video game as a part of an online campaign (to this day, I know quite a little about developing, financing and marketing of either of those, but I’d still love to learn!).
The ’live experiment’ did not make me think too much outside the box – after all, the first rule of any creative process is: start from what you know best. I brainstormed through all hands-on techniques I’ve ever got familiar with in the lab: Western blots & immunoprecipitations take at least 2 days to gain any sort of results (usually negative due to rubbish antibodies :P), and who has the sweet time to show that to an audience? qPCR & HRM, which are basically mixing things in tubes and loading them into 96-well plates… Developing ”gene-specific” cell lines also takes weeks, and the only fun part are the green cells seen through a microscope… so, you get the point. A lot of laboratory work is tedious, often boring, time-consuming and unsatisfactory.
Ultimately, I went for a very simple methodology, which actually also requires a few days of cell work in the lab – but the good part is that the material can be frozen and used afterwards: the wonderful luciferase reporter assay. And, remembering it now, most of the times it was fulfilling, since I always managed to get at least some interesting data (though let’s disregard the fact that it was sometimes contradictory 😛 ).
In a way, this assay does not seem exciting: it is based on mixing a reagent with the cell material in a test tube, putting the tube in a machine, and waiting for a signal value (numerical) to pop. With a little bit of coding, this signal value can be transferred directly into a graph chart, which makes things at least a wee bit dynamic. But this would only be the introductory, educational part of the show, with the purpose is to teach how signalling pathways work, using hormonal mechanisms as the example, and that is where the fun part comes in: turning the signaling path into a mix of tag and capture-the-flag games 🙂 Maybe we should call it… capture-the-tag? Coining it! 😀
See a full description of the SCI-WORLD “Signal pathway” zone in the video below! One day, it could come true…
To be continued…