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How to Support Science Without Being a Scientist

24th May 2016
By Guest Author

Growing up, I never thought much of science. My early education, like many others in my age range, focused on writing, reading, some math and art. So when it came to science, I just simply did not have the brain space. In fact, much to my father’s dismay (a scientist through and through), I came home from school, after a particularly science-filled day and proclaimed, “I HATE science!” And that idea stayed with me throughout my education and even after pursuing my advanced degrees (both in business). Additionally supported by societal influences, there just didn’t seem to be a place for me in the world of science. But I was so wrong!

By now, it should come as no surprise – I am not a scientist. Yet here I am working for a science company, writing on a science blog. I wanted to share three tips on how you, yes you, can support science even if you don’t have a PhD.

citizen science
A “citizen scientist” searches for mountain goats

The amateur scientist sometimes saves the day

Have you ever seen the movie Armageddon? Basically, the opening of the movie, a man on a farm, with a huge telescope, discovers an asteroid is traveling through space towards Earth, and alerts NASA. While this is a story created in Hollywood, there are real opportunities out there for non-scientists to get involved in discovery and progress. One of my personal favorties is BioBlitz, a “24-hour event in which teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible.”

If you’re more into space rather than what’s happening here on Earth, The Planetary Society hosts a list of various “Citizen Science” projects you can get involved in today.

Get out there and explore!

For anyone, the easiest way to support scientific progress is at science museums, and if you want to get a little deeper, volunteer! You can always find opportunities within those institutions that will help you get your hands dirty! There are hundreds of science museums across the world – they exist on every continent (excluding Antarctica) and sometimes are free to enter. You can find a comprehensive list on Wikipedia.

Pick a science, find a company and get a job in the “business of science”

I know this is the most difficult one, which is why I have put it last – it’s also my own path. My first dip into the science pool was working for a medical device company. I chose healthcare because it was something I was passionate about, as my parents are both healthcare professionals. When I started with the company, I was brought on (as a temp!) to update some marketing materials. By the time I left, I had launched a cutting edge medical device that would improve the outcomes of people having major orthopedic surgery. I’ve never performed orthopedic surgery, yet I had a hand in helping a surgeon improve a life. My friends in finance, customer service, HR and so on have similar stories. The business of STEM is growing tremendously. In the US alone, there are over 750K life sciences companies, which excludes, hardware/software companies, chemical companies and more. The opportunities are endless, you just have to find them.

Hopefully you have found this article insightful and it has given you ideas to get creative and the courage to explore the scientific world despite your lacking a degree or title. Stay tuned for more posts more about supporting the scientific process without having a science background!

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