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#STEMStories: Elodie, Science Communicator, France

1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do?

My name is Elodie Chabrol, I was a researcher but I do science communication freelance now.
I got my PhD in neuroscience in Paris and then moved to London for 2 postdocs, at University College London on the sciatic nerve repair and the 2nd postdoc on a new gene therapy against Epilepsy.

My job now as a science communicator is to help science to be explained to the public correctly My specialties are science on Social media, oral presentations and managing big international events. a big part of my work (and my heart) is with the Pint of Science festival http://pintofscience.com/ I founded the French branch that I direct and I also direct the international component (the development, organisation and the communication)

The principle of the festival? Get researchers in pubs to share their work with the public in a relaxed way, all the events simultaneously in May during 3 nights (in 2019 it was almost 3000 events in 3 nights in 400 cities!).

I love my current job I got to do really amazing things like talking at great events and on national radio but also things like going to a Rocket launch and writing a book (in progress).

2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

A mix of both, I always asked questions when I was a kid, especially “why”, so science was the perfect fit for me. I arrived in research because I wanted to teach and people advised me to do a PhD for that. My first day in the lab was a revelation, I loved everything about it. The way of thinking but also the experiments, I’ve always loved manual activities and I found some experiments relaxing even sometimes some kind of meditation when it’s a precise work to do.

I also always loved talking to people and communication, so this job now is the perfect one for me. I realised after a few years in research that I love science communication so much that I should do that full time. It’s a big change but for the better for sure. And I was lucky I started Pint of Science while I was still a researcher and kept both “jobs” for almost 5 years; I could really try my new job literary for years before deciding to jump full time in science communication! The change wasn’t scary at all.

3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings?

I love the energy of the people I work with and their passion. And also working on Pint of Science is amazing. We started as a small festival in 3 cities and this year it will be in 29 countries and probably around 600 cities. Having such an amazing project to organise is enough to get you out of bed any kind of day!

Outside of Pint of Science I work for really cool clients and amazing projects so it’s easy to be motivated.

4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story?

When I’m in doubt I work even more, because I have to convince myself and others it will be OK. Starting Pint of science in France wasn’t easy. People were not believing in it at all because it was new and coming from UK (not a French thing), they always asked me “how do you know it will work?” and my answer was always the same: “because I’m going to make it work”. I think if you work with passion you share that around, people want to follow you and it’s quite contagious.

When I have a peak of stress I drink a good cup of tea, put my favourite music up and sing as loud as I can!

And also a very important moment for me every year: go on holidays “unplugged” with no signal and no social media for at least a week, usually I go hiking in the mountains! That break is always amazing for my brain.

5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

I don’t have one role model but several from my days in the lab, the though women that managed to get a permanent researcher position and open their labs and the ones that are professors now.

From my science communication point of view now all the great communicators. I love the people that can take you anywhere in their talks, that’s truly an art to be able to talk that well.

6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time?

Everything will be fine, and if you fail it will be a great lesson.

I know it’s cliché advice but sometimes it’s good to remind yourself that in life you have multiple chances at being happy and successful and if something doesn’t work out chances are it was not supposed to and your heart might be better at something else even if at that time it feels like your world is falling apart. 

7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM?

  1. Do what you enjoy no matter what people tell you, if you work with passion things will work so much better.
  2. If you fail, it’s OK to try again, it’s how we learn; No one manages from the first time, but they don’t always share those stories.
  3. Find peers that you can talk to and share struggles and happy moments with.

8. How do you measure your success?

Success is hard to measure and a really personal thing I think, everyone has a different way to measure it.I measure my success now on how my work changes thing for people or make them happy and also how much I love doing it or not. When I get testimonials of Pint of Science attendees, speakers or teams that had a great time it’s the best for me.

You also can find success in failure, if something didn’t work but you can learn why it didn’t, to make sure you are better next time that’s a successful fail! In science, I use to have a lot of those and they help you go forward step by step!

9. Where can we find out more about your work?

elodiechabrol.com and of course https://pintofscience.com/

10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you?

Of course! Come and say Hi on twitter @elocha19 or LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/elodiechabrol/