Information for STFC scientists

An online X Factor for scientists – have you got what it takes?

The best crash course in science communication there is

We’re looking for scientists to take part in STFC funded zones in I’m a Scientist this 7th – 18th March! It’s a great opportunity to talk to school students from the comfort of your desk or lab. If you’re interested in I’m an Engineer, have a read of

Apply to take part in I’m a Scientist at now!

You’ll answer thought-provoking questions from school students and take part in high-energy live chats with them. You’ll improve your typing skills for one thing, but more importantly you’ll find out how to really communicate your work to non-scientists.

In I’m a Scientist this March, the two STFC zones are the Gravity Zone and a General Science Zone with a wide mix of 5 scientists working in different fields.

What is it?
I’m a Scientist is an X Factor style competition for scientists, where students are the judges. 5 scientists put up a profile on our website, answer questions and have live online (text) chats with school science students. Students vote and the winning researcher gets £500 to spend on communicating their science.

“IAS is by far the best public engagement activity I have been involved in. The set up allows everyone to have their chance to ask questions, whether they are the loudest person in the class, or the quiet curious student” – Suze Kundu, UCL

Everything happens on the web, so you can join in without leaving your desk. The event runs over the 2 weeks from 7th – 18th March. There will be around an hour of live text chats each day and an hour answering questions, although this will vary depending on how busy the zones are.

Who’s eligible?

You’re eligible if you’re linked to the STFC in some way, this could be:

  • Your research project is STFC funded
  • You use STFC facilities or those supported by STFC
  • You use data obtained with STFC support
  • You are employed by the STFC

You don’t need to be based in the UK.

Apply now

To apply, fill in the application form before Sunday 24th January. We’re flexible over who counts as a scientist and who counts as an engineer, so apply for whichever you think suits you best!

How to apply



When you apply you’ll be asked to fill in a 1 sentence summary of your work – make this interesting and understandable to 13/14 year olds, as a panel of students will then select the 5 researchers to take part. Even if you don’t think you fit into one of the zones above, apply anyway as the STFC are funding more zones through to 2016.

To find out more contact Angela who runs the projects: or 01225 326892.

What have others said?

2 STFC scientists that took part in I’m a Scientist in June 2011 wrote about their experiences online: Ceri Brenner, a laser plasma physicist at the Central Laser Facility won the Quantum Zone and Derek McKay-Bukowski, a radio telescope project manager from RAL Space and the Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory took part in the Chromium Zone.

In a piece in STFC’s Fascination Ceri says “The competition was a brilliant opportunity to give young people a glimpse into the life of a scientist and a feeling fro how cutting-edge science ultimately impacts on real lives”.

Dr Mark Fogg from York University wrote a moving blogpost about participating in the June 2010 event, which really conveys the impact that taking part can have on scientists.