Joana Lobo Antunes – Crossing Borders Across Countries and Fields of Study

Life isn’t a straight line. In particular, professional life is not as much of a straight line as it was in the past. As scientists, as researchers, the path we follow is determined by our choices, but also by our collaborations and by opportunities that arise along the way. In this episode, Joana Lobo Antunes will share with us the interesting path that brought her from pharmacy and organic chemistry to a full-time career in science communication.

Joana Lobo Antunes

Joana Lobo Antunes is Head of Communications at Instituto Superior Técnico, lecturer in Science Communication and Social Media for Scientists, FCSH NOVA and Universidade Nova de Lisboa Doctoral School, coordinator of science radio show 90 Segundos de Ciência, and founder and current president of the Portuguese Science Communicators Network SciComPT. Joana has previous experience as a researcher (PhD in Organic Chemistry) and as a university professor, having transitioned to a position as a professional science communicator at ITQB, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, in 2012. Her main interests are the use of theatre improvisation techniques and storytelling in science communication. Joana has also been engaging scientists to use social media tools to connect and interact with peers and lay persons, improving science visibility and the public image of scientists.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The positive impact an international experience can have on you scientifically, but also personally
  • Why you shouldn’t be weary of reaching out to potential mentors or employers looking for insight or collaboration opportunities
  • How interdisciplinary work can cross-pollinate science and bring on new fields of study and of creation
  • How talking about your research to a lay public can make you a better scientist and a better job candidate
  • The importance of collaborations and team work to innovation and professional growth

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“There’s so much more to science than the papers and the awards – that’s not the scientific process.”

“What I learned from my supervisor and from the scientists was that you can’t live being a hurricane because you’ll need to constantly be moving. She taught me to anchor my ideas into the real world, because I can’t keep spinning all the time – I need to be grounded and I need to build stuff.”

“Getting a PhD is not about the science that you learn – it’s about the process. It’s about what you learn about yourself, it’s about learning how to get answers, it’s to learn how to deal with a team, how to deal with a PI, how to deal with buying stuff, how to deal with the negative results. So, doing a PhD is so much more than just about the science that you do. It’s about everything else that you gain by doing a PhD.”

“So, having a PhD is not just the title on your thesis – having a PhD is so much more than that. It’s the skills that you acquire.”

“Women are less open to give their time to do activities other than their work. I believe it has to do with the fact that women are usually more overwhelmed than men, with a lot of tasks. This has a repercussion, which means that for girls who would like to come to science, the role models are mostly men – the ones that are interviewed, the ones that come on the television, the ones that come on the newspapers are men. And we need to address this, we need to have more women as protagonists, on the media and everywhere else, because it’s important to get women doing all kinds of jobs.”

Joana’s links: Instituto Superior Técnico; 90 Segundos de Ciência; SciComPTe

You might also like the following episodes:

Inês Campos Costa – Career advisory:

Kelly Bullock – Scientific illustration:

Kirsten Sanford – Science Communication:

Patrícia Monteiro – Science outreach:

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