“I am thrilled to play a part in determining what will make the next generation of products valuable to the scientific community”, Dr. Rodrigo Bammann
After completing his PhD, Rodrigo worked as a science and physics teacher in secondary schools before working as an Applications Scientist at Scientifica. Here he shares his academic career and his advice for those who are considering looking for a position outside of academia.
My journey in academia
My academic career has taken me in many different directions in terms of research focus, techniques and geography. I began in my native Brazil with a bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences. My favourite subjects were comparative anatomy and the physiology of vertebrates, particularly the development of the nervous system. I studied the ampullae of Lorenzini in sharks, which got me interested in neuroscience.
After a short period working in a behaviour and psychology lab in São Paulo, I made the move to the UK and joined a master’s course in Systems Biology at the University of Warwick. It was there that I started learning electrophysiology, as well as working with programming and mathematical modelling. I went on to complete a PhD at the University of Leicester, using electrophysiology to investigate how nitric oxide and serotonin affect the electrical properties of cortical cells.
As a post-doctoral researcher at the CRIUMSQ in Université Laval, Quebec, I worked with the olfactory bulb and neurogenesis. Here, I continued to use electrophysiology but also began to learn multiphoton microscopy. One of my most prized accomplishments in this position was constructing optic paths to enable 2 two-photon lasers to work together.
Through all of these many changes, what has remained constant is my passion for continually learning and making new discoveries, and for getting the best out of the equipment I work with. These qualities continue to be important in my current role at Scientifica.
My transition to industry
For personal reasons, I had to cut short my time in Canada and move back to the UK suddenly. A lack of published papers made it difficult for me to find another academic position and so I began teaching Science and Physics in secondary schools. This gave me the opportunity to improve my communication and presentation skills, but teaching is not my vocation and I missed working in neuroscience. I searched and applied for many industry jobs but it took a long time before I found one that matched my extremely specialised skill set. When I saw that Scientifica was looking for an Applications Scientist, I knew immediately that it was a great fit for my abilities, experience and interests, and applied for the position.
It’s great to have the security of not working on a fixed term contract anymore. I am very happy to have achieved this whilst still working in a field that I love, and without compromising my desire for continuous learning and development. In my Scientifica role, I am really enjoying sharing my knowledge of research and helping clients and colleagues to solve problems with equipment. I am thrilled to play a part in determining what will make the next generation of products valuable to the scientific community.
My advice for those considering moving from academia to industry
It can seem very daunting trying to make this transition, especially if you’ve trained for a long time to specialise in a particular area. Academics are sometimes very self-critical and it can be useful to get someone from outside academia to help you review your career experience. You will probably find you have a lot more transferable skills than you thought, which can give your confidence a real boost as well as be invaluable for job applications.
There are also some very useful websites that can assist in preparing your CV, since an academic CV is vastly different from an industry one. Networking is of vital importance; you can talk to people face-to-face at conferences and meetings, as well as connecting on social media sites such as LinkedIn. The more people who know you are looking for a job, the more likely you are to discover an opportunity that’s right for you. Finally, don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm! It’s as important in industry as in academia to be passionate about what you do.