Research will shape the world
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Want to know how the world works? Try a career in research

23 Jun 2017

As’s Research Week draws to a close, we gather together everything you need to know about careers in research.

The world is changed through research. Few advancements affecting the future of the human race would come to pass without intensive R&D in areas from pharma to tech, to sociology and much more. That makes the role of researcher – and adjacent roles – immeasurably important to our global society.

For those curious about working in research – and curiosity is an essential attribute in this area, so well done on ticking that first important box – we spent’s Research Week looking at the sector, exploring the ways you can work within it.

First of all, good news for those who feel they don’t have quite the right qualifications or skill set for it: you don’t need to! We heard from Hays, who told us that you don’t actually have to be a researcher to work in research. Many other STEM roles fall under its umbrella.

And, if you don’t want to go down the lab coats and goggles route, you don’t have to do that either. We found five top companies hiring in R&D – some traditional, and some that may surprise you.

We also looked at one of the skills you’ll absolutely need if you want to pursue a career in research: communication. Sci-comms is an area that is growing exponentially, as more and more researchers begin to understand the importance of being able to communicate their work. Are your skills up to scratch?

To give you an example to follow, we heard from three researchers who each gave us an insight into the exciting work they’re doing to change the world. David Perez-Lopez at Nokia Bell Labs told us about what he’s doing to make our Wi-Fi better. Sarah Hudson, a lecturer and researcher at University of Limerick (UL), is trying to make the manufacture of drugs more successful. Dublin City University’s (DCU) Ronan Murphy is trying to make disease more manageable.

We also spoke to Thomas Jelley, vice-president of the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life and Inspirefest 2017 panellist, about his research into how intelligent robotics will affect all of our jobs in the future.

Finally, we looked at the landscape in Ireland for women in research, speaking to Dr Marion Palmer of WITS to find out if recent initiatives and online campaigns have made any difference at all.

As always, for more on any of these stories, follow the links below.

1. You don’t have to be a researcher to work in research

Picture a career in research. Did you picture a lab coat and goggles? It can be much more nuanced than that. Hays’ Paul Strouts offers an overview of some of the non-research-based careers you can pursue in R&D.

2. 5 cool companies hiring in R&D right now

Does your passion lie in the cutting edge of research? Check out some of the coolest companies hiring people in R&D.

3. How well can you communicate your research to people?

Communication is an essential part of science. Much like the researchers need to get drugs from a lab to the human body, they also need to relate their technical, jargon-filled ideas to the people that need to be interested in them.

4. Sick of terrible Wi-Fi? There’s a researcher for that

David Perez-Lopez is a senior research scientist at Nokia Bell Labs. Here, he sheds some light on his work, and how he hopes to fix our Wi-Fi problems.

5. How can medicines become cheaper, safer and easier to make?

Sarah Hudson, a lecturer and researcher at UL, is leading a team to develop processes that could make the creation of pharmaceutical products faster and cheaper, and the drugs themselves more effective.

6. Can this researcher stop disease in its tracks?

Dr Ronan Murphy of DCU is leading a group of researchers working to uncover how a combination of genetics, diet and exercise can be used to manage chronic illness.

7. What can research tell us about robots and the future of work?

Thomas Jelley, vice-president of the Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life, draws on extensive research for an insight into the future of work.

8. Has anything changed for the #distractinglysexy women in research?

Dr Marion Palmer, WITS, on how campaigns such as #distractinglysexy and Manel Watch have changed things for women in research.

Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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