Emma Pewsey

Comment and careers editor

One of the best things about being a materials scientist is that you’re a bit of everything: chemist, physicist, engineer – in some cases even a biologist. As a result, I’ve spent my career blending chameleon-like into all kind of situations.

My early dreams of winning a Nobel Prize were scuppered by choosing to do a PhD in corrosion science (which, let’s face it, is never going to be cool enough to win mainstream awards). The experiments were fun; writing and talking about science was more fun. Academic working culture as I understood it then – long, lonely hours striving to succeed on a competitive career path – was not fun at all.

As my project looked at the corrosion of metal implants inside the human body, I figured that qualified me as a biologist and entered a biomedical writing competition. I won, which triggered a series of fortunate events that led me to join the Features team of the open-access biology journal eLife in 2014. In my time there my interest moved away from the plain-language summaries of research I’d originally been employed to write, to various issues affecting research culture: open science, working conditions, support for early-career scientists (inside and outside academia), how to fix a system where you’re fortunate to get a permanent job before the age of 35.

In 2019 I joined Chemistry World as comment and careers editor, where I get to explore those topics – and much more! It’s nice to pretend to be a chemist again.

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