TV and remote control

From Back to the Future's Emmett Brown to Breaking Bad's Walter White, countless scientists on the small screen and the silver screen alike are so legendary that they have become part of entertainment folklore.

Fictional scientists are by no means in short supply, either. But while the role of the scientist is a common one on-screen, the science itself is seldom explored in any real detail. To remedy that, here's a brief look at the specific expertise of some of TV and cinema's best-loved scientists.

 

Walter White, Breaking Bad - Chemist

Let's start with perhaps the most iconic TV scientist of the last 20 years, Walter White.

While the obvious answer of 'meth cook' may immediately spring to mind when trying to identify Mr White's vocation, it's not a job title that's likely to appear on a loan application or insurance form.

Prior to donning the famous black pork pie hat and becoming Heisenberg, "the one who knocks" was originally a chemistry teacher by trade.

In fact, according to the series, White was a promising scientist in his youth, studying chemistry at the California Institute of Technology.

White specialised in proton radiography, and his research in this field even led to a 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

However, his career took a notable downturn that saw the promising chemist settle in teaching before ultimately taking on the clandestine guise of the infamous drug kingpin Heisenberg.

The Heisenberg name itself is a reference to German physicist, Werner Heisenberg, a notable theoretical physicist and one of the key pioneers of quantum mechanics.

Since establishing his on-screen credentials in Breaking Bad, actor Bryan Cranston has subsequently gone on to play numerous scientific roles - most notably that of a nuclear physicist, Joe Brody, in 2014's Godzilla.

Meanwhile, he has also transferred his scientific standing into comedy-based roles as Dr Templeton in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Dr Fist in The Cleveland Show.

 

Emmett Brown, Back to the Future - Experimental Physicist

Great Scott! Perhaps the best example of the classic 'mad scientist' on the silver screen, Back to the Future's Emmett Brown is the quintessential example of a Hollywood scientist.

Blending wacky eccentricities with genuine scientific genius, Dr Brown ('Doc' for short) refers to himself as "a student of all sciences", making an exact vocational specialism fairly hard to pin down.

That being said, quantum physics and general relativity are key areas that are likely to have been Doc Brown's specialist subjects, providing the basis for his time-travelling inventions and exploits.

However, perhaps the best label to apply to the zany professor would be that of an experimental physicist, owing to his wide and varied scientific experiments in search of new discoveries and scientific experiences.

The crown jewel of Doc Brown's fictional studies was, of course, the invention of the iconic flux capacitor. A plutonium-powered device that makes time travel possible, Doc opted to house his invention in the now-iconic DeLorean DMC-12, activating when the car reached 88mph.

The character of Doc has become so beloved that he was voted #20 in Empire's '100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time' list. More recently, the Rick Sanchez character in the popular TV show Rick & Morty is said to be a direct parody of Dr Brown.

 

Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park - Mathematician

No list of classic on-screen scientists would be complete without the charismatic rock star of science that is Ian Malcolm.

Dr Malcolm is apparently based on real-life mathematician Ivar Ekeland and scientific historian James Gleick. His specialist field of mathematic study is that of so-called 'chaos theory': how a minute action can result in a monumental reaction.

Coincidentally, the man behind the character, Jeff Goldblum, was no stranger to silver screen scientists when he donned the leather trousers of Dr Malcolm in 1993. He had previously portrayed molecular physicist Seth Brundle in the 1986 classic The Fly, earning himself a 'Best Actor' award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films.

What's more, Goldblum would also go on to play Dr David Levinson in 1996 summer blockbuster Independence Day. He even played a professor in the 2001 kids movie Cats & Dogs, and a provost in TV comedy series King of the Hill - talk about typecasting!

 

Honorable Mentions

  • Indiana Jones - Archaeologist
    While often mistaken for a historian, the fabled adventurer (played by Harrison Ford) was technically a scientist. Naturally falling into the archaeology field of scientific study, Dr Jones proved that you don't need to be armed with a flux capacitor to make it as an iconic on-screen scientist.
  • Ghostbusters - Parapsychology
    While the team of Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz and Egon Spengler may be best known for their affinity for busting ghosts with their patented proton packs, their spectre-snaring skills often overshadowed the fact that they are all highly-educated parapsychologists. Of course, parapsychology (the study of psychic and otherwise paranormal phenomena) is widely considered a pseudoscience - but that doesn't make the movies any less enjoyable.
  • Ross Geller - Palaeontologist
    Despite being one of the most recognisable characters of the 90s, Dr Ross Geller from Friends remains another criminally overlooked scientist, less known for his palaeontology than for his keyboard playing, furniture moving, and advanced levels of Unagi.

While we can't promise you a working life as exciting as those of Indiana Jones and Doc Brown, there are plenty of rewarding science jobs listed on the HRS website. Click the link below to browse the latest vacancies!

Science Job Search

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how to ask for a reference

Have you recently decided to take the next step in your career and leave your job? If you're in the process of looking for a new job, sooner or later you'll be asked to provide a reference.

The purpose of a reference is to check that the claims on your CV are accurate, to get a better idea about your previous role, to understand what skills you have to offer, and to assess your attitude in the workplace.

References are a completely normal part of looking for a new job, but asking for one from your old employer can be intimidating - especially if you left your old job on "bad" terms. 

Here at HRS, we've helped hundreds of people to move from their old, dead-end job into a life-changing career that they can be proud of. For that reason, we have heaps of advice we can give you to help make your transition from one job to another as smooth as possible. So, how do you ask for a reference from your old employer?

Decide who you're going to ask

Your new employer might ask you for one reference, but more often than not they ask for 2 or 3. You need to consider who you'll ask for a reference carefully. The person you choose needs to be able to vouch for your qualifications, your skills, and your personality.

So, when choosing the people you'll request a reference from, make sure they:

  • Know you well/worked closely with you
  • Are likely to have nice things to say about you
  • Have the time to provide a well-rounded, honest reference

Choosing someone who didn't work with you directly, or choosing someone who doesn't have a lot of spare time to give a good reference, could hinder your job application/future employment.

Make your request politely

When you've made a list of potential referees, give them a call, drop them an email, or arrange a quick meeting. You might be in a position where you've been out of work for 6 months or a year. In that time, your previous employer might have forgotten some of the specific things you contributed to the company & will be grateful for a quick update on your situation alongside the request. 

One thing to note is that your previous employer is not obliged to provide you a reference if they don't want to, so make sure you ask in a polite and respectful manner.

Here's a good example of what to say:

"Hello, I've recently applied for a position at X company and I was wondering if you'd be willing to provide a reference?

I know that we worked together on X, Y, Z projects and achieved some really great results. 

I'd be very grateful for your time and look forward to hearing from you."

Have a back-up in mind

It's possible that the person you contact for a reference won't provide you with one. Bear in mind that a neutral, unenthusiastic reference will probably do you more harm than good, so if someone isn't particularly keen on giving you one, it's probably for the best.

If you want to progress through your job application quickly, it can be beneficial to have a few 'back-up' referees in mind. These could be, colleagues, university lecturers, or team leaders.

Alternatively, when you leave your company, ask them for a formal letter of recommendation that you can keep on file and use throughout your job search going forward. This is a great way to avoid having to pester your previous employer for a reference months after you leave your job.

Remember to say thank you

When someone takes time out of their day to give you a reference, it's important that you go back and thank them. Whether this is a quick email, a 5-minute phone call, or an invitation to lunch, whichever way you choose to do it, let them know you're thankful. 

Remember that your referee is probably rooting for you to get the new job too, so give them an update on the outcome when you find out if you got the job! 

So, there you have it, our tips to make asking for a reference as easy as possible! If you're currently looking for a job in science, we have a lot of great vacancies.

Browse Science Jobs >

 Read More:

CV Tips and Advice

- How to provide a reference for a former employee

Female scientist holding a test tube

If film and TV have taught us anything about scientists, it's that they all wear white lab coats, they're seldom seen without a test tube in hand, and they work exclusively within the confines of a lab.

However, while the stereotypical image of the zany scientist with wild hair, thick glasses and quirky foibles may be entertaining, the truth is far less eccentric and far more diverse.

Nevertheless, misconceptions such as these are commonplace not just in the media we consume but also in society as a whole. In fact, there are loads of myths about science that have almost become accepted as fact by the general public - and this affects the way people think about science jobs.

When it comes to common misconceptions about science jobs, there are a few that are particularly prevalent both inside and outside the industry. Here are some of the worst offenders that rear their ugly heads time after time.

 

You need a degree to pursue a career in science

This one is a biggie, and a common belief among jobseekers nationwide.

Admittedly, there is some truth to this. For example, you'll never become a medical doctor without years of formal training and that all-important piece of paper.

However, there are definitely avenues into science that don't require years spent in lecture halls racking up hefty university fees.

There are a variety of science jobs that can be entered into via company trainee initiatives and entry-level apprenticeship schemes.

Meanwhile, school-leaver programmes also offer young people a realistic route into scientific employment without a university degree.

 

Most science jobs will soon become automated

With technology evolving more and more with each passing year, it's natural that many jobs will fall by the wayside as a result of technological advancement making certain manual tasks obsolete.

In 2019, the BBC even ran article claiming that up to 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world would be replaced by robots by 2030 based on analysis by Oxford Economics.

However, while that undoubtedly makes for a spectacular headline, this isn't so much a bold prediction as it is a logical statement, no different to how factory workers were given their marching orders in favour of automated machinery back in the 60s.

However, most STEM jobs are relatively safe from automation. In fact, due to a skills shortage within STEM fields, there is actually a growing demand for skilled scientific workers. Roles such as data scientist are particularly safe from automation.

READ MORE: Jobs Least Likely to Be Automated

In fact, EDF Energy's 'Jobs of the Future' study found that jobs in science, research, engineering and technology will rise at double the rate of other occupations over the coming years.

The same report also went on to claim that science-focused industries are projected to account for 28% of job openings in the UK, equating to just over 2.8 million jobs in total.

Meanwhile, demand for traditional science, research, engineering and technology jobs will remain high, driven by the government's commitment to ongoing investment in infrastructure.

 

Science jobs are for men only

The notion that science is a boys-only club has existed for quite some time and, while that mentality may seem archaic, there is evidence to back it up.

For example, in 2017, just under 10% of successful candidates in A-level computer science were girls. The knock-on effect of this also resulted in girls representing less than 14% of all computer science students in UK.

However, while the female population may be under-represented in certain areas of science (notably computer science), physical science-related degrees have seen a year-on-year increase in the number of female graduates.

HESA data shows that the number of students studying science-related courses at university in the 2017/2018 academic year was virtually an equal split between genders, with a 49% contingent of females to the 51% of males.

Better still, the 2019 A-level results showed that girls actually outnumbered the boys for the first time ever in terms of participation, with 50.3% to 49.7% for biology, chemistry and physics.

With results and data clearly showing a reasonably even split between the two sexes, the idea that women aren't interested in science jobs is one that can be well and truly put to rest.

 

Creativity has no place in science

Science often gets a bad rap for being a boring industry, full of laborious theory and dull characters; however, in reality, this couldn't be further from the truth. Innovation is the core principle of most science jobs, with the pursuit of revolutionary advancement and ground-breaking discovery two recurring themes.

Without creative minds who think outside the box and colour outside the lines, scientific innovation would not be possible. From creating and implementing experimental treatments to developing new technologies and breaking new ground, creativity is at the heart of all scientific innovation.

In fact, the constantly-evolving landscape of science has led to the creation of many brand new jobs that simply didn't exist until recently. Best of all, with science showing no signs of slowing down, this is a trend that is only going to continue, making for some exciting times to come!

Browse Science Jobs >

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life science careers

Life science is an amazing field to work in if you're interested in living organisms and their interactions with the world around them. Many people choose a career in life sciences because they have a natural curiosity about the world.

What sets life science apart from other 'living' sciences like biology, is that it addresses much broader issues including ecosystems, medicine, physics and even life in space. This makes life science careers particularly appealing for budding scientists with a great understanding of lots of different subjects.

Read More: Are Life Sciences and Biology the Same Thing?

 

What kind of life science careers are out there?

Life science careers are incredibly varied! Here are a couple of careers that you could consider if you're interested in life science as a full-time job. This should give you a good idea of the variety of careers in life science.

 

Microbiologist

If you're interested in microscopic organisms, this is the life science career for you. You will use your research to make changes in industries like agriculture, medicine and food production.

Read More: What does a microbiologist do?

 

Research Assistant

For people who love discovering new things and providing a helping hand where necessary, working as a research assistant is a great career. Research assistants aren't directly responsible for the outcome of the research, but they do help the principal researcher to do the best job possible.

Read More: What's it really like to work as a research scientist?

 

Industrial Pharmacist

If you're interested in medicines and the development of new drugs then this is the life science career for you. Industrial pharmacists are involved with the clinical trials, quality assurance, and the marketing of new drugs (amongst other things). This life science career will have you saving lives and curing new diseases!

Read More: 5 reasons you should consider a pharmaceutical role

 

Computational biologist

This form of biology is interwoven with data science, a career that's great for scientists with a passion for technology. You will look at theoretical methods and use mathematical modelling and computational simulation to gather information about biology.

These are just a few of the life science careers that you can choose from. Hopefully, this gives you some inspiration to look into life science careers further.

Life Science Jobs

Pharmacist in lab

A degree in pharmacy requires five years of study, typically including a four-year master's degree with an additional year of pre-registration training. Students are then required to pass a further pre-reg exam to confirm their eligibility.

With five years of dedicated and extensive training, it's wise to ask the question 'are pharmacists in demand' before you consider this vocation as a career and jump in with both feet.

 

Are Pharmacists in Demand?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacists is expected to show little to no change over the next decade; however, employment in retail pharmacies is expected to be impacted by the growing number of online pharmacies.

That being said, the story seems to be notably different from a domestic perspective on British soil. In 2018, The Pharmaceutical Journal published an article warning that Brexit could lead to a significant shortage of pharmacists in the UK.

Statistically, the number of pharmacists from the European Economic Area registering to practise in the UK has fallen by 80% since the Brexit vote. Should that trend continue, pharmacists could be in short supply, at least on these shores.

 

Mixed Messages

While the skills shortage should theoretically create lots of opportunities for qualified British pharmacists, it's worth noting that the world of pharmacy isn't the same as it was several years ago.

A combination of budget cuts and an increase in pharmacy schools over the last few years has led to lower wages, and many within the industry have been actively discouraging the younger generation from entering this field.

 

Clinical Pharmacists

One primary area that has seen a notable influx of pharmacist jobs has been GP surgeries. As a result, it's become increasingly common to see pharmacists present in medical centres and group practices in the local community.

The duties of a clinical pharmacist include carrying out structured medication reviews for patients with ongoing health problems and improving patient care through a personable approach. The addition has made a valuable impact on service, improving a number of areas as a result.

The presence of pharmacists in a general practice surgery not only enhances the level of customer service, it also increases the capacity of the GP, optimises medicine use, and improves patient quality of life.

As a result of this successful trial, the positive trend looks set to continue, due in no small part to the NHS's renewed focus on general practices.

 

Long-Term Plans

According to the NHS Long Term Plan, the health service is aiming to increase the number of clinical pharmacists over the coming years, made all the more likely thanks to the GP five-year contract framework introduced in January 2019.

This new contract is expected to create an influx of significant funding for the NHS, ensuring funds to support an additional 20k health professionals by 2023/24. Best of all, this stat notably includes clinical pharmacists by name within that prospective framework.

According to the details outlined in the new scheme, additional funds will meet a recurrent 70% of employment costs for new clinical pharmacists, as these professionals become part of the Primary Care Network's workforce team.

As a result of the proposed plans, bigger teams of health professionals will work across PCNs in community teams, providing tailored care for patients and allowing GPs to focus more on patients with complex needs.

 

Jobs in Pharmacy

In addition to NHS pharmacists working in hospitals and local surgeries, there are also job prospects within private hospitals and even the armed forces.

Meanwhile, private sector organisations also offer opportunities for pharmacists, notably pharmaceutical companies and those within the food and drink industry.

Research is another area that's frequently in need of pharmaceutical assistance, making academic pharmacy another worthy option.

 

Is Pharmacy in Demand?

So, while pharmacy and pharmacist jobs may not be the same as they were years ago, recent studies suggest that it is indeed a profession that will remain in demand.

In fact, according to prospects.ac.uk, over 82% of pharmacy graduates found employment within six months of graduation. Better yet, 98% of those employed graduates were working as pharmacists, providing positive employability prospects for anyone already studying pharmacy.

While the game may have changed somewhat in recent years, one thing that will not change is the core principles of the job.

Pharmacy remains a people-focused service and will always revolve around patients and medicine, regardless of whatever changes take place around it. Whether you are a people person studying pharmacy or you're already a fully-qualified pharmacist, a job in pharmacy offers a steady and fulfilling future.

Browse Pharmaceutical Jobs

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