One of my main motivations for joining the Young Academy of Scotland was because I didn’t have very many contacts across different disciplines, sectors and other areas. But I also wanted to be able to make a contribution to society and life in Scotland.
I had only recently moved to Glasgow a couple of years earlier and I was a fairly new interdisciplinary academic at the University of Strathclyde, as a senior lecturer in translational pharmaceutics.
After becoming a member of the Young Academy of Scotland in 2020, I’ve been able to develop new professional networks, which I hope will help to increase the impact of my work in the future. I’ve also had more opportunity to communicate directly with the wider public on issues I care about in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to before. I became the chair of the Young Academy of Scotland’s communications group, and at the onset of the crisis in Afghanistan, following the return of the Taliban to Kabul, I helped to draft and publish a public statement on behalf of the Young Academy of Scotland. The statement was to raise awareness of the implications of the Taliban invasion on women and human rights, and also position our views on this crisis.
I’ve also contributed to an initiative called Research the Headlines, which attempts to break down media interpretation of scientific research and make it more accessible to the public.
A challenge for early-career individuals is to have a voice that transcends beyond their own immediate sphere of expertise and sector, but being part of a Young Academy makes that possible. For example, the Young Academy of Scotland has been involved in UK, EU-wide and global consultations in health-related or climate matters, giving a voice to the membership. Young academies have the unique ability to break down silos and deliver on large and ambitious activities. They can develop networks, workshops and funding opportunities to rapidly respond to emerging situations such as the pandemic.