Oxford Scientific Film, BBC
The PIPS project that I undertook was working as a researcher for a BBC2 programme. In this series, the biological and botanical history of six iconic plants are explored - including the rose, the tulip and the water lily. Tracing each plant's epic journey through time, looking at how millions of years of evolution have conspired to create unique characteristics and how man has bent these traits to his will and the vagaries of fashion.
My major role in the project was to investigate interesting stories surrounding the cultural history of these common garden flowers. Often, this involved a large amount of reading through textbooks and determining the relevance and potential interest of information. I then produced documentation for each of these for the production team. I also helped to write the script sections which focused more specifically on the scientific aspects of plant evolution, drawing on work from within my PhD research itself. This in turn created a large amount of dialogue with various members of the public for their potential as contributors to the show, and continued dialogue with those in the scientific community on specific aspects of floral evolution.
I feel that the PIPS has allowed me to much more efficiently manage my time. Deadlines for briefs or feedback were often rather short and therefore required streamlined working patterns as a result. This has been useful in my return to lab work. The conversations with potential contributors and consultants were useful in honing my communication skills further both by phone and email.
I really enjoyed the placement overall. I got to step out of the science world for the first time since GCSE level education and learnt all sorts of history. Particularly interesting were the causes and impacts of the Florentine Renaissance on the World as well as the role the Crusades played in shaping modern retail habits and practices. These kinds of interesting facts made for an engrossing break from the PhD and I really enjoyed researching for the project.