Beyond Your Research Degree

Episode 7 - Dr. Natalie Whitehead, Co-Founder Exeter Science Centre

September 3, 2020

Welcome to the Beyond Your Research Degree podcast from the University of Exeter Doctoral College! The podcast about non-academic careers and all the opportunities available to you... beyond your research degree!  In this episode Kelly Preece, Researcher Development Manager talks to Dr. Natalie Whitehead, co-founder of the Exeter Science Centre.

Here are some links to the different organisations and schemes we discussed in the podcast: 


Music from ’Cheery Monday’ by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (


Podcast transcript


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Hello and welcome to the Beyond your Research Degree podcast by the University of Exeter Doctoral College

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the latest episode of Beyond Your Research Degree.

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I'm your host, Kelly Preece, and I'm delighted for this episode to be joined by one of our recent graduates, Dr Natalie Whitehead.

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Natalie, are you happy to introduce yourself? OK, great.

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So I'm Natalie Whitehead. I recently finished my PhD in physics.

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I was looking at spin waves through magnets, which are just a special type of wave that travels through magnets.

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That was my PhD and that finished in September.

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And I'm now the founder and director alongside my colleague, Dr Alice Mills for the Exeter Science Centre.

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Talk to me about the Exeter Science Centre. How how did this come about?

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So this is something that I've been thinking about for, oh, I don't know, probably just a bit over a year now.

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But a year and a half. And basically, I I was trying to work out what to do after my PhD

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So this who was in physics and during my PhD and undergraduate degree,

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I was really involved in doing public engagement with research and a lot of science outreach.

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I absolutely love talking about science and and speaking to the public about it and showing them demos and getting their

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views and trying to answer questions and things and basically just trying to inspire them about how amazing science is.

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So I was trying to work out what to do after the PhD, which would, you know,

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be good for me, but also for something that I can really contribute towards.

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So, you know, the climate crisis is a really big thing at the moment.

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Of course, it should be and should have been for the. I don't know how many decades.

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And I really feel like I have some kind of responsibility to do something with my physics training, which is useful.

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So I was trying to work out what to do and whether, you know,

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whether I should go and work for one of these amazing Start-Up companies doing cool things.

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You know, I was looking at the the ocean clean up.

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I think what they're doing is amazing, using science and tech to solve the problem and a global issue and lots of other companies like that.

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It's nice thinking. Well, you know, I could go and work for someone like that. Will I be the best scientist or engineer to do that?

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I don't know. But I thought really what my what my skills are.

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One of the things I'm really passionate about, as I mentioned, is science communication.

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And this idea really just came to me one afternoon having lunch and thinking like, why don't I just make a science centre in Exeter?

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It's just something that I've always kind of thought, wow, we should really have one of those here

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I've been to a few around the UK and across the world.

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And I just I love going there. And I see adults and people of all ages just absolutely loving,

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understanding different things about science and playing with scientific equipment and just really engaging with science.

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And I just figured, why don't we have one here? And why don't I just make it?

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So I approached my colleague Alice, and she's a very passionate science communicator as well.

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And she loved the idea here. And we've just been talking about it since then.

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So, yeah, we're just super dedicated to making it happen.

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So what stage are you at with your plans for the science centre?

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We're still in the very early stages. So, as I mentioned, I finished the PhD in September.

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And of course, when you, you know, hand in a PhDthesis,

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you still got a lot of work to do afterwards to kind of, you know, do the viva and make corrections.

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So that's been kind of continued and maybe into about January or so.

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And then I really properly submitted it put in online and then then could properly focus on this that I've been working on.

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It's pretty much full time on and off, you know, around the thesis since September.

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So what we're what we're doing at the moment is trying to get trying to get the public to be aware of our plans and try

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to get their input and really just try to establish ourselves as a science discovery centre for Exeter and for the region.

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And just trying to raise awareness, try to raise money as well.

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That's a big part of it. And just trying to make it happen.

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We've got a a team of advisers who are amazing and super inspiring from different areas of science education and business as well.

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And they're kind of our advisory boards. They'll be moving over to be our trustees.

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Once we establish ourselves as a charity soon. But there's there's loads of things to do about it.

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When you take on such a big project, you realise that, you know, you're running a business.

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You're also trying to create a charity here, charitable business.

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Engage with the public. And that is just a kind of multidisciplinary project ready, which is really exciting or very overwhelming.

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But at the same time, it's some I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

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I was going to say it's it's a huge project and and it is there must be an awful

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lot of business based skills and business based work that needs to be done.

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How how has that been? How has it been. Yeah.

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You know, going from an academic environment to doing much more business related work.

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Have you found that transition easy?

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Have there been kind of skills and experiences you've been able to take across or has it been a complete learning curve?

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It's been a very steep learning curve. So am I. I don't have any experience of running a company myself, and nor does my colleague Alice.

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So we're learning. However, I feel like when you you do a PhD and you study.

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I mean, you know, from my experience of studying science and physics,

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you you have to take in a lot of information and and process things and think logically.

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And, you know, you you can learn things very quickly.

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And although the business and accounting and finance and all that kind of stuff is it's not my first language at all

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I feel like there's there's a lot of information out there that just needs synthesising, understanding.

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And really, that is the way we're approaching this.

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Of course, we understand it. We we shouldn't be expected to be absolute experts.

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Everything we're doing and this projects, rather,

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it's it's understanding when we need help and need assistance and guidance from people who really have experience in this.

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So we've been very lucky, actually, to have a lot of assistance from the university in.

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In this kind of Start-Up venture, if you would call with the start-ups team, setsquared programme.

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They've been absolutely wonderful and giving us the kind of business advice.

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So we've been assigned a business adviser, David Solomides, who is just super inspiring and really, really, really helpful.

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And he's become one of our kind of formal advisors and hopefully one four trustees will move to a charity as well.

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So so the help is out there.

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I suppose if I was to give advice to someone perhaps who is thinking about doing something unusual like this, who doesn't have the experience.

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I guess it's just you just have to go for it and be prepared to ask and and reach out to people and organisations who can help you,

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such as the university and and others. It's just been wonderful.

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Actually, the amount of support and help that we've received from from various kind of organisations across Exeter and mostly really the university.

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But, yeah, I feel like we've we've been assisted the whole time with them.

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With things like this, especially business, which is kind of scary and unusual for the physicist,

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for scientists, but I but I think it's it's totally doable and it's always going to be a learning curve.

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But if you're determined enough, you'll you'll make out. Yeah. And I think there's a couple of things I'd like to pick up on there.

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The first of which is to just acknowledge that that the support is out there in it.

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And it's not about knowing everything yourself and having all of the skills yourself, but knowing how to access your networks, I guess.

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And and and in this case, for you, it is the university and the start-ups team.

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Definitely, definitely. That's really important, too, because you you can't possibly know everything,

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really recognising that is really important because otherwise you just try and do everything yourself.

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It get stressful. It gets overwhelming.

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It's kind of it's almost like knowing when to delegate and knowing when to knowing that you can't possibly know everything

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and that there is a big support network there if you're part of the university or have been part of the university.

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They are just wonderful in in encouraging and helping and facilitating anything to do with Enterprise or Start-Up Ideas.

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That is just been even the kind of encouragement that you get of, you know, wow, this is a great idea.

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You should speak to this person or have a look at this. It's it's just been really, really helpful.

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And I think people don't expect that to be a department of the university that has this kind of business expertise.

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And they really do. Yeah, that's it.

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And I seriously encourage anyone to to go visit the the Innovation Centre as the start-ups team are over in the deck over there.

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And they're just they're just great. You just pop in and speak to them and they can they have lots of kind of seminars, workshops and advice for you.

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So just go and speak to them. They're really great. So the experience you have of writing papers, your thesis reports, funding applications,

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all those sorts of things clearly and stood you in good stead for what you're doing now.

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Are there any other skills or experiences you had during your PhD day that have been really, really crucial to starting this venture?

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That's a good question, because I think, to be honest, the whole thing really the the way that I was approaching this,

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they're calling it a project, is there's more than a project.

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So that is an ambition. But, you know, you have to break it down into small, achievable steps because, of course,

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you know, Mount Improbable really in this case is building a multi-million pound science centre.

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But they're kind of finite steps you can break this down into.

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Okay. We need to talk to people. We need to make a plan.

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And then those have some steps as well.

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So the important thing is when you're doing a Ph.D., you cannot say, right, I'm going to just just solve this big problem I have for, you know,

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it's going to take four years and a PhD in this case, it might take about I dunno about seven years if we're if we're lucky to get the funding.

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But at the same time, it's a seemingly insurmountable task, but it can be broken down into small, achievable chunks,

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some of which you're doing all at the same time, which just makes it a little bit more challenging.

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But, um, but yeah, I think that the whole time management and understanding that things can be done,

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they just need to be done in small chunks is very helpful from a PhD

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So what else. Things like presentation skills. That's been hugely important to them during the a PhD

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We've had a lot of opportunities to to do presentations, you know, preparing PowerPoint,

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doing either conference presentations or presentations to our colleagues about the way that we're doing.

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Again, you have to be clear. You have to be kind of clear enough to a to a broad audience who don't necessarily have your expertise.

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And you have to express complicated ideas in a very short space of time, sometimes five, 10 minutes or so that you've got.

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And I found actually that that I've had that experience here as well. So we've had a number of number of opportunities where we will be doing business

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pitches to various audiences and they might be five minutes long or so.

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So I've had the same problem I have to express to people this kind of amazing

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vision that I that I and my colleagues have about the Exeter science centre.

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And I have to explain it in five minutes and everything that could possibly encompass and that's challenging.

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It's something I'm still kind of learning about because, of course,

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they people think of it from a business sense to not only have you got to express the vision,

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you have to express, you know, how you're going to get funding and all of this kind of extra detail to in five minutes.

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So that's been challenging. So, yeah, there's some really cool things are coming across.

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That's the the writing, as we've already talked about, but also the kind of product and time management presentation skills.

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So I think the thing that's. That's really interesting to reflect on is that it's not necessarily obviously what you're doing is science related,

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but it's not necessarily the the science specific skills that you're using certainly at this moment in time.

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It's it's the broader kind of skill set that you develop through the process of doing the research degree.

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Definitely, definitely. I think it's not necessarily you know, you don't have to have done a science PhD to to be able to do this stuff.

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But certainly, from my perspective, it has helped a lot because I feel I said and I hope I'm sure it's the same in other disciplines.

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Of course, I have no experience of it, but I just feel like doing a you know, doing a PhD in general,

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I think gives you this this ability to take on and face a lot of information and and that kind of stuff, that that's really incomprehensible.

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Synthesise it down and make logical steps when you understand what what needs to be done.

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So it's definitely helped. I guess that the difficult question but the one that I know that people will be

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wondering is obviously this isn't making you any money at the moment to be to be blunt.

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So are you working alongside it? So that the way that I'm doing it at the moment is we don't have any specific income, which is, you know,

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obviously would be difficult for a lot of people, to be honest, being pretty thrifty throughout the PhD

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I know a lot of PhD students often, you know,

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work an extra year sometimes to write up results and and maybe their funding ends and they have to continue writing the thesis.

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Luckily, with the way that I did the PhD in the centre for doctoral training in metamaterials, they were wonderful.

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And they would they would, you know, pay you for the full amount of time.

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So you had a good four years to write up.

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But what we're trying to do is, well, we've got some it's called co creation funding from one of our advisors who's amazing, Dr. Janet Anders.

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She's provided us with some funding to basically pay a very small stipend that will start soon.

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Yeah, it is a bit of a problem because when you when you do start something like this way,

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maybe you don't have an immediate income source or or reading something current kind of charitable.

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You do need to have a bit of a business head on you.

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You need to think about how how you're going to make money from it, mainly because it has to be sustainable.

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We don't want to make a big salary for ourselves. We're not interested in that.

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We want to do something good. To be honest, it would just be great if, you know, we could we could all just live for free and do nice things.

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But of course, that, of course, you have to you have to think sustainably long term.

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So this has been something we've been thinking about for a while. How on earth do we do this?

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Because, of course, you know, I initially were like, we need to make this amazing building, amazing centre, because that will have the most impact.

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And, of course, we need a lot of money for. How are we going to get to that stage?

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Well, we think that since our expertise, mine and Alice's when Alice joins us properly in September,

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our expertise really is public engagement with science.

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And of course, we we've had a lot of experience working with academics and working in academia.

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And we think that's a really important way for us to bring money in initially just to

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kind of pay ourselves a small salary and enable us to work on this properly for for

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a longer term is to work with academics to kind of basically do public engagement on

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their behalf or with them and take the hassle out of that whole process for them,

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including the reporting back and making sure that everything's clear for the for the the ref, the research excellence framework.

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So what we're what we're doing is starting now to work with academics to make public engagement programmes of their research,

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which involve, you know, working schools, the public.

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And we've got, of course, a big growing audience across the Southwest to reach and do public talks for them, help them make exhibits.

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And eventually we hope that this will transition into working with them properly for,

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you know, putting putting their amazing exhibitions in the science centre itself.

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But the way we've kind of reframed thinking about this project is that, you know, it's not just working towards a building.

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You know, that isn't the end goal, really. It would be wonderful. We really, really want it to happen.

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But the really important thing that we can be doing right now is having an impact with the public.

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You know, even though we don't have a centre, we can still be a kind of a kind of abstract idea of a centre, which is just,

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you know, we're doing something great where we're communicating science to the public in a scientific research.

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And by the way, I have to clarify, like I'm using science, but really, that's an umbrella term for STEM or science,

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technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine, which we're using but I tend to just use science because its shorter

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So we want to communicate science, the public. We want to have an impact now.

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And and we don't need a building to do that. Of course, when we have a building,

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we'll be able to have so much more influence and impact and have a space that people can actually visit and engage with.

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But for now, we're going to be working with academics that should bring some money in to enable us to do this.

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And at the same time, we're going to be working to get grants from from various funding bodies and of course,

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working towards getting what we hoped might be some philanthropic or some capital grant funding to make the building itself where we're optimistic.

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That's brilliant. And just sounds like a really, really considered a weay to.

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Support yourselves, but also develop and support the.

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The business slash charity. And develop those connections and that interest and engagement with the future centre.

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Definitely. Yeah. I mean, we're really I guess the thing is we're not trying to do something on the side,

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which is I don't know for example, selling scientific toys

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Maybe that would make some money. It's kind of relevant, but not really.

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But that's more of a kind of profit making enterprise, which is just trying to,

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you know, and whether that profit goes towards the stuff that we're doing.

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We we thought we might as well try to get some some income through doing the activities we really ought to be doing anyway.

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It's just kind of lucky, really, that some that there is a market for, if you want to call it that.

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We know that a lot of academics are really busy and they don't necessarily have

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the skills or the the time to do proper public engagement rather than just,

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you know, going to a school once throughout the whole course of of of a grant.

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Instead, what we can do is say, look, you know, you don't need to bother about sending all those emails and organising things and

00:21:55,700 --> 00:22:00,740
reporting back and and trying to reach a broad audience will do all that stuff for you.

00:22:00,740 --> 00:22:02,390
And at the same time, we're doing something good,

00:22:02,390 --> 00:22:08,870
because it's we're getting to talk to the public about science and about exciting research that's going on locally.

00:22:08,870 --> 00:22:14,150
So it just ticks loads of boxes, really. We really hope that's gonna be a viable income source for us.

00:22:14,150 --> 00:22:17,560
But we're working on it. Yeah. Yeah.

00:22:17,560 --> 00:22:21,290
As I said, it sounds incredibly exciting. And the.

00:22:21,290 --> 00:22:29,030
The idea of of the centre, and I mean certainly as a kind of I grew up locally and I remember taking school trips,

00:22:29,030 --> 00:22:39,340
we always had to go to Bristol, you know, to the science centre. And so the idea of having having that in Exeter seems.

00:22:39,340 --> 00:22:43,690
It almost makes me sort of when I when I saw saw the work you were doing,

00:22:43,690 --> 00:22:49,600
it made me think what actually given this exeter science park, we've got the Met office here, the university.

00:22:49,600 --> 00:22:54,400
Why don't we have one? Yeah. Exactly. Really pleased you said that

00:22:54,400 --> 00:23:01,870
I guess this is a good opportunity to kind of explain, you know, a rationale for putting it here and also what we're trying to achieve.

00:23:01,870 --> 00:23:07,680
So if you. The clearest thing I tend to start with, of course, on a podcast, so I can't show you it.

00:23:07,680 --> 00:23:12,720
But if you look at the map of science centres across the U.K., these are.

00:23:12,720 --> 00:23:15,280
I have to kind of define science centre first.

00:23:15,280 --> 00:23:25,330
So a science centre or Science Discovery Centre is a kind of Hands-On science museum, which isn't about exhibits behind glass,

00:23:25,330 --> 00:23:31,390
which are kind of historical or, you know, and and have a more historical kind of background.

00:23:31,390 --> 00:23:42,400
It's more about Hands-On experiences which are trying to, you know, infuse and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds about science.

00:23:42,400 --> 00:23:44,710
So that's what a science centre is.

00:23:44,710 --> 00:23:55,360
And if you if you look at the map of science centres across the U.K., there is just a gap in this region which needs filling, quite frankly.

00:23:55,360 --> 00:24:03,150
So, as you mentioned, there's one in Bristol, which is really curious and that's amazing, really a really great centre.

00:24:03,150 --> 00:24:07,150
And they've got a wonderful planetarium. And it's just it's just really cool.

00:24:07,150 --> 00:24:12,820
It's actually one of the the earliest science centres in the UK in its original form.

00:24:12,820 --> 00:24:21,570
And also what else we got down in the Southwest where we've got these projects, of course, amazing and really iconic.

00:24:21,570 --> 00:24:25,930
And the Eden projects is still quite specialised in its aim

00:24:25,930 --> 00:24:32,630
So that, you know, it's more about kind of I kind of want to get it wrong, but more horticultural, you know,

00:24:32,630 --> 00:24:42,820
it's it's it has a certain theme associated with it isn't really general science, including like space and astronomy and biology and things like that.

00:24:42,820 --> 00:24:52,190
It's it's more specialised in what it does. And there's also the Plymouth the Aquarium in Plymouth.

00:24:52,190 --> 00:25:00,280
That, again, is very specialised. It's a it's an aquarium. And it says more about, you know, it very specialised theme.

00:25:00,280 --> 00:25:03,730
So what we're trying to create is a is a general science centre,

00:25:03,730 --> 00:25:08,500
which covers all aspects of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine.

00:25:08,500 --> 00:25:18,160
And we are trying to to fill this gap of science engagement in the Southwest and why Exeter

00:25:18,160 --> 00:25:21,760
Why not Tiverton or Cullompton?

00:25:21,760 --> 00:25:23,020
Or something like that.

00:25:23,020 --> 00:25:33,730
Well, Exeter itself is is really trying to establish itself and is doing a wonderful job at being a real science and tech innovation hub.

00:25:33,730 --> 00:25:38,530
I mean, you're right. We have the Met office, we have the university,

00:25:38,530 --> 00:25:49,330
we have the exeter science park and this consists of a load of really exciting science and tech companies who are who are doing great things.

00:25:49,330 --> 00:25:58,240
So Exeter already is a hub of science and that does lots of great things going in the region are going on in the region around here.

00:25:58,240 --> 00:26:04,270
And it really just is the perfect place for it, not only because they know it has great connections,

00:26:04,270 --> 00:26:15,100
particularly for North Devon and the more rural areas across the southwest, you know that the roads all head towards Exeter.

00:26:15,100 --> 00:26:21,340
And, of course, the train service as well. So we're trying to take as many boxes as we can in terms of location.

00:26:21,340 --> 00:26:27,940
We want to really locate it in the centre of Exeter so that people don't have to drive to get to us.

00:26:27,940 --> 00:26:34,750
You know, they could use public transport or they could use a park ride service and and you know that.

00:26:34,750 --> 00:26:37,780
Or they could cycle in and whatever, depending on where they live with.

00:26:37,780 --> 00:26:43,950
You know, if we were located out in the countryside, pretty much everyone would have to drive to get to us or,

00:26:43,950 --> 00:26:47,860
you know, it would just make it more difficult for people to reach us.

00:26:47,860 --> 00:26:53,050
And also, we're just we're trying to become a real cultural centre.

00:26:53,050 --> 00:26:56,170
You know, we don't want to be a kind of tourist attraction on the outskirts.

00:26:56,170 --> 00:27:05,140
We want to serve the public and and host clubs where if we get this amazing building that we'd like to create,

00:27:05,140 --> 00:27:10,200
we'd love to have green walls of rooftop garden.

00:27:10,200 --> 00:27:14,140
You know, maybe we'd love to work with the RHS for example,

00:27:14,140 --> 00:27:24,190
and the Eden project to create a kind of rooftop Eden where people come and they they have mindful kind of gardening activities

00:27:24,190 --> 00:27:32,920
and clubs they might take part in from a kind of gardening for mental health kind of idea that we'll have public lectures.

00:27:32,920 --> 00:27:38,110
So I just imagine it being this kind of space that people, you know, whether they're.

00:27:38,110 --> 00:27:47,560
Interested in science, whether they're interested in the arts, though, will come in and an experience this place in lots of different ways.

00:27:47,560 --> 00:27:52,100
The thing I haven't really emphasised too much. Mainly because it's it's something I'm really excited about.

00:27:52,100 --> 00:28:01,570
I don't necessarily have the expertise in is the fact that we want to tie in art with the science centre really strongly.

00:28:01,570 --> 00:28:10,340
And I'm still working out ways to do this. I met with residents at the amazing and inspiring Studio Kaleider

00:28:10,340 --> 00:28:17,620
And that's the kind of organisation which not only facilitates lots of artists who work together and and

00:28:17,620 --> 00:28:24,700
work on really inspiring things that they create these amazing kind of art experiences and installations.

00:28:24,700 --> 00:28:32,470
So I'm a resident there, which means that they very kindly let me use their office space and, you know, work amongst their colleagues.

00:28:32,470 --> 00:28:40,660
And I'm hoping that will, you know, help me get an insight into this. This amazing arts community we have in Exeter in the Southwest,

00:28:40,660 --> 00:28:49,210
and we're trying to we're trying to ensure that that isn't just a, you know, science centre for science nerds.

00:28:49,210 --> 00:28:56,110
You know, even that would be some nerdy components of the science centre.

00:28:56,110 --> 00:29:03,820
We wanted to ensure that it's appealing to a broad audience and we want to emphasise that science, isn't it?

00:29:03,820 --> 00:29:08,890
Well, okay. The subject isn't just you're a scientist or you're an artist.

00:29:08,890 --> 00:29:20,530
You know that you can be both. You can use the skills from both areas to to to basically understand the universe.

00:29:20,530 --> 00:29:26,950
We find ourselves in and that's what artists are trying to do, you know, interpret and understand the world.

00:29:26,950 --> 00:29:33,130
And that's what scientists are trying to do as well. I don't see them mutually exclusive, I think.

00:29:33,130 --> 00:29:38,740
I think we can learn a lot from each other. And I just think it would just make it so much more interesting.

00:29:38,740 --> 00:29:45,730
We have been to a few science centres, the one in particular that really resonates with me,

00:29:45,730 --> 00:29:52,510
and that is a great inspiration for the place we're trying to make is the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

00:29:52,510 --> 00:29:55,150
They have a an artist in residence.

00:29:55,150 --> 00:30:05,260
They have these amazing creative and kind of psychologically interesting art installations which have loads of science behind them.

00:30:05,260 --> 00:30:10,660
And they just I can't even express it. It's it's really inspiring stuff.

00:30:10,660 --> 00:30:15,910
And we'd really love to emulate that. And that's something I'm trying to work on at the moment.

00:30:15,910 --> 00:30:25,960
We're trying to understand how we can embed and and make a thread running through a whole centre of art as well as science.

00:30:25,960 --> 00:30:33,150
So there's a lot of information. It just sounds incredibly inspiring.

00:30:33,150 --> 00:30:39,960
And it's great to hear that you're working with Kaleider as well is that a connection that the university that through the start-ups,

00:30:39,960 --> 00:30:45,760
set up, or is that something that you sought out yourself? So I'm trying to think how that happened.

00:30:45,760 --> 00:30:58,720
I think I was doing a pitch. This was I handed my PhD thesis in on the Monday and on the Tuesday, I had a pitch at an Exeter Cits Futures event.

00:30:58,720 --> 00:31:07,900
Oh, wow. Yeah. And I hadn't written my presentation for it, so I had zero I had to hand, my thesis on the Monday morning.

00:31:07,900 --> 00:31:14,530
And then that afternoon prepared my presentation. And then I'm quite literally on that Tuesday.

00:31:14,530 --> 00:31:20,490
Everything starts kicking off. So I had of emails and really started working on the Science Centre the next day.

00:31:20,490 --> 00:31:24,360
So that was intense. But yeah.

00:31:24,360 --> 00:31:35,200
But I think from that meeting, the kind of networking meeting, I met Andy at Kaleider and he said, oh you need to come in to our open Fridays.

00:31:35,200 --> 00:31:39,700
So they have this wonderful thing where on a on a Friday anyone can go and use their

00:31:39,700 --> 00:31:44,410
office space and just kind of mingle and do some work there and talk to people.

00:31:44,410 --> 00:31:47,710
And. And I I did that a few times.

00:31:47,710 --> 00:31:54,070
I just thought, this is so cool. You know, everyone is so interesting and they're working on great things.

00:31:54,070 --> 00:32:01,000
And they were really welcoming. And I guess I just I just wanted to be part of it.

00:32:01,000 --> 00:32:06,190
So I applied to become a resident. And they very kindly let me in. And yeah.

00:32:06,190 --> 00:32:14,860
So it kind of happened through just one of the networking events that these wonderful events that Exeter City futures organisers.

00:32:14,860 --> 00:32:22,090
I heartily encourage anyone who is thinking of setting up or being part of or doing something locally.

00:32:22,090 --> 00:32:24,290
They should just go to these kind of events.

00:32:24,290 --> 00:32:33,910
You know, there's lots of no on exeter city features have this amazing, you know, idea for the future of, exeter, that they're really proactive.

00:32:33,910 --> 00:32:37,880
It's just a great place to get things done. I can't really explain. I think it's it's.

00:32:37,880 --> 00:32:42,450
Exeter. It's the kind of people that are working here that are doing things here.

00:32:42,450 --> 00:32:50,020
There is a lot of encouragement and a lot of help and a lot of opportunities. So it's really the best place to be doing something great.

00:32:50,020 --> 00:33:00,680
That's that's brilliant. That's really, really brilliant. I think we probably draw to a close, but in doing so what?

00:33:00,680 --> 00:33:05,730
What advice would you give someone that's thinking about.

00:33:05,730 --> 00:33:11,940
I guess setting up their own business or venture or or project or, you know, we can use a variety different terms,

00:33:11,940 --> 00:33:17,970
but they're getting towards the end of the end of the research degree of the day, they're thinking about what's next.

00:33:17,970 --> 00:33:24,450
They want to set up on start up on their own. What advice would you give them?

00:33:24,450 --> 00:33:28,810
Okay. I would suggest that they have to.

00:33:28,810 --> 00:33:36,100
If they say they've got the project, they they understand what they want to do or even if they have a brief idea.

00:33:36,100 --> 00:33:46,650
First of all, if that part of university, I'd suggest talk to the kind of student entrepreneur team we have.

00:33:46,650 --> 00:33:53,400
We have one at Exeter. Of course, they're amazing. Go and talk to them and they will probably give you some amazing advice.

00:33:53,400 --> 00:34:01,020
Maybe you attend a seminar about, you know, how to put your put your business ideas into practise.

00:34:01,020 --> 00:34:09,180
They have lots of things about how to make a business plan, how to, you know, make you go to networking events and and make Connections.

00:34:09,180 --> 00:34:13,350
So I would really firstly suggest just talking to people about it,

00:34:13,350 --> 00:34:24,000
preferably people from the business entrepreneurship team, and also try and get a bit of a team behind you if you can.

00:34:24,000 --> 00:34:30,960
Trying to do something as a single person is really tough because, you know,

00:34:30,960 --> 00:34:39,510
not only is it really helpful to have a sounding board for other people to come say, well, should we do it this way or maybe we should try this.

00:34:39,510 --> 00:34:48,450
You know, I think this is why, for example, in in university lab work, you know, when you we have we have lab projects.

00:34:48,450 --> 00:34:49,560
You have to do it.

00:34:49,560 --> 00:34:58,050
They usually put you with a partner or there's a small team of you that really helps realise working in a series is hugely important to this.

00:34:58,050 --> 00:35:01,750
So maybe they'll be two of you, maybe three of you.

00:35:01,750 --> 00:35:08,970
And then, you know, eventually you'll start thinking about getting advisors on board maybe who have business experience,

00:35:08,970 --> 00:35:14,340
maybe you who are just super enthusiastic about your cause and have experience from other areas.

00:35:14,340 --> 00:35:23,490
But it's it's just I suppose don't be afraid of going and doing something unusual.

00:35:23,490 --> 00:35:32,020
You know, it might when you when you say to people, oh, I want to make a case, maybe 40 million pound science centre in Exeter,

00:35:32,020 --> 00:35:37,380
I think a lot of people would just like you're completely mad and you kind of say,

00:35:37,380 --> 00:35:44,220
well, you know, you have to be a bit crazy to do something like this. But, you know, it can be done in that it should be done and that it can happen.

00:35:44,220 --> 00:35:49,890
If you're motivated enough. You really I guess you have to have the enthusiasm for what you're doing.

00:35:49,890 --> 00:35:54,840
You have to be motivated and particularly resilient to setbacks,

00:35:54,840 --> 00:36:05,770
to the kind of overwhelming nature of what you're doing and just get people around you who can support you, who can guide you and who can help you.

00:36:05,770 --> 00:36:13,020
Yeah. Talk to First of all, the first thing to do is talk to the amazing people and the student start-ups team.

00:36:13,020 --> 00:36:15,500
That's my advice. Absolutely.

00:36:15,500 --> 00:36:24,300
And you've mentioned lots of different resources here, like the start-ups team at the Innovation Centre, set squared Exeter City Futures, Kaleider

00:36:24,300 --> 00:36:28,110
And I'm going to put links to all of these organisations and information in the show

00:36:28,110 --> 00:36:34,430
notes so that people can kind of follow up on on those brilliant recommendations.

00:36:34,430 --> 00:36:35,670
And that's it for this episode.

00:36:35,670 --> 00:36:44,250
Thank you so much to Natalie for taking the time to talk to me about what is an incredibly exciting project and the range of support.

00:36:44,250 --> 00:36:52,530
You can access it if you're interested in this kind of charitable, entrepreneurial venture after your research degree.

00:36:52,530 --> 00:37:08,273
And that's it for this episode. Join us next time when we'll be talking to another researcher about their career beyond their research degree.


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