Imposter syndrome. Failed experiments. Roadblocks. Your supervisor misspelling your name (on more than one occasion). If you are a graduate student or a young scientist, the above might sound familiar to you. I am no stranger to the hardships of grad school as I am currently in the 2nd year of my Master’s program and I have a plethora of self-esteem crushing experiences that I can share over a beer, or two. However, along the way, I have made worthwhile discoveries in my project, met some brilliant minds, and have made long-lasting friendships with amazing up and coming scientists.
We often find ourselves at the bottom of the totem pole, where we have been referred to as “cheap labor,” and are expected to do the “grunt work” for a project. But often the long hours of hard work, ingenious ideas, critical thinking, and the initiative to change the direction of the project into something substantial become overlooked or dismissed. The respect I share with my resilient peers is something that is not mirrored among the higher-ups and even in the general public. Every time I talk about my project to an acquaintance or a non-science friend they immediately have this glazed-over look in their eyes, so that is my cue to say “I’m sorry, I know it’s very boring” and then talk about something more relatable instead. So, this got me thinking – how can we create a space that empowers graduate students and young scientists, while also sharing our love of science to the general public? How can we highlight our work in an engaging and informative way so that it appeals to the masses and becomes relatable?
Well, podcasts have become a very popular medium for the sharing of stories and ideas, so I thought making a research podcast would be a great exercise for students to put themselves out there while also disseminating complex ideas in a captivating way. Research Radio is a new podcast produced by students from the Department of Physiology at the University of Toronto, where we hope to release a biweekly episode to highlight a young scientist’s work, while also giving them the opportunity to interview and network with experts in their fields. We will also have more casual chats in a series called “Research Radio: After-Lab Hours,” (although a colleague joked that there are no after-lab hours) to have light-hearted discussions about the state of science, graduate school, and whatever is occupying the news space during that time.
The people behind the podcast is a team of 8 passionate and multi-faceted graduate students, with a range of skills including sound editing, graphic design (shout-outs to Sammy Cai for designing our logo!), and music production. Currently, we are working hard to produce a quality show that can best represent the students from the Department of Physiology. I am very excited for us to grow and develop, and I hope to see this boost the morale of graduate students. On top of that, it would be great if the general public tunes into our podcast and genuinely finds it interesting and relatable. And maybe eventually our supervisors will spell our names correctly (although I don’t count on that one!)