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Calling all Bristol environmental postgrads: Join the Cabot Institute Press Gang!

When my friend told me she was off to a Cabot Institute Press Gang meeting, I tagged along on a bit of a whim to find out what it was all about. After realising what important work the Cabot Institute was doing I decided to get involved as a Press Gang member, and have since attended lots of events and written around 18 articles for the blog. Now I’m writing this post to encourage other graduate students and staff members to join the Press Gang, have your say and develop your science communication skills!

What does it entail?

Being a member of the Press Gang means different things to different people. You can spend as much or as little time as you like performing the main activities of blogging about Cabot-themed news and writing press releases about newly published research from members of the Institute. Blogging is probably the most popular past time of Press Gang members – pick a subject in the news or a recent event or talk you’ve attended and tell the world why it’s important. There are occasional meetings to get together with the rest of the team and talk about potentially interesting subjects or events coming up – usually over coffee and cake!


As followers of this blog will know, the Cabot Institute holds a myriad of events throughout the year covering subject matters relevant to the six Cabot research communities; Global change, natural hazards, low carbon energy, water, food security, and future cities and communities. As a member of the Press Gang, you will often be offered a front row seat to world class events to help with Cabot’s promotion. I’ve attended lectures by popular climate change communicators John Cook and Professor Michael E. Mann, Guardian blogger George Monbiot, Professor Dame Julia Slingo (Met Office), and my favourite science correspondent, Alok Jha!

The Press Gang are privileged to attend special events too; last autumn we visited At-Bristol’s 3D Planetarium to watch ‘Blue Marvel’, a show which examined the solar system and incorporated University of Bristol research to explain what makes Earth so special.


I became a Press Gang member to get more experience in science writing and to try my hand at communicating a range of different kinds of research. As a Press Gang member you can sign up for the excellent training provided by the Cabot Institute and the University of Bristol Press Office. Learning how to communicate complex topics clearly is a critical skill for any researcher, and you will probably find learning how effectively use social media, how to blog or even how to write a press release incredibly useful methods for promoting your own work in the future!

What has the Press Gang done for me?

I’ve really enjoyed writing for the Cabot Institute, and it’s shown me that I’d like to explore a career in science communication/publishing in the future. The work I've done for Cabot enabled me to build the skills I’ll need, as well as a portfolio of work, from which I have already benefited. In my free time, I work as a freelance science writer and editor, and I’m a New Media Fellow promoting plant science with the Global Plant Council. I also spent a month as an intern with the plant science journal New Phytologist, and won a student scholarship to attend and write about the UK Conference for Science Journalists in 2014. In each of these roles, my experience as a Press Gang member helped me both to land the job and to clearly communicate scientific principles to the general public.

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of the Cabot Institute team, but especially to Amanda Woodman-Hardy, the Cabot Institute Coordinator and leader of the Press Gang. She works extremely hard to coordinate the training and opportunities that you will receive as a Press Gang member, and I am very grateful for all the advice and encouragement she has given me over the years!

So what are you waiting for? E-mail the Cabot Institute to find out more about joining the Press Gang today!
This blog is written by Cabot Institute member Sarah Jose, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol.
Sarah Jose

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