"We're going to turn the UK into a supercharged magnet, drawing scientists like iron filings from around the world" - Boris Johnson.

While giving a speech at the Culham Science Centre, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, spoke about his plans to expand the UK's hub of scientists and intellectuals following Brexit.

To do this, he plans to remove the cap on 'tier one' visas which currently only allow 2,000 skilled migrants into the UK each year.

On top of this, he wants officials to come up with a way to allocate automatic endorsement (subject to immigration checks) that allows researchers' families to work and live in the UK too. 

 

The Current Situation

Currently, over half of UK scientific workforce is made up of EU researchers (roughly 211,00 people), who don't need visas to work in Britain. Researchers from outside of the EU are faced with an arduous, expensive process to gain a working visa for the UK costing, on average, £8000.

Following our departure from the EU, researchers from European countries will be expected to go through the same process, which has sparked fears of a scientific skills shortage.

 

Concerns

Researchers in the UK are already worrying about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. The loss of scientific collaborations with EU institutes, alongside the loss of European funding, is predicted to impact our science industries.

It's thought that the UK will be unable to participate in EU-funded Horizon projects and that British scientists may not be involved at all if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. 

Mr Johnson addressed these concerns by saying "the UK will continue to collaborate in great scientific projects under any circumstances".

 

What Does the Future Hold?

It's nice to see the PM already addressing these concerns and prominent scientific figures, like Dr Daniel Rathbone (assistant director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering), have welcomed the Prime Ministers "powerful message".

But, like us, they look forward to seeing the finer details of these proposals. Science is a collaborative enterprise and we're hopeful that these proposals will keep our science industries thriving for years to come!

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Britain

We have a proud history of scientific achievement and innovation here in Great Britain. A surprising number of watershed technologies were born on this island, and us Brits have always been well-represented across a broad spectrum of scientific fields, from astrophysics to zoology and just about everything in between.

Don't believe us? Here are 15 famous scientists who were born right here in Blighty (and all since 1900 - apologies to fans of Charles Darwin, Ada Lovelace, Alexander Graham Bell and other pre-20th century science superstars!):

 

Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Birthplace: London, England (1968)

Field: Astronomy

The first scientist on our list is also the youngest (although Brian Cox was born less than a week earlier). Maggie Aderin-Pocock is perhaps best known for hosting the current incarnation of long-running BBC series The Sky at Night, but she's not just a TV personality: she is an Honorary Research Associate in UCL's Department of Physics and Astronomy, and she's worked on a wide variety of projects over the course of her career, from developing landmine detection devices to managing the observation instruments for the Aeolus satellite.

Aderin-Pocock is also the Director of Science Innovation Ltd, an organisation that works to engage school-aged children in the field of space science.

 

Tim Berners-Lee

Birthplace: London, England (1955)

Fields: Engineering, Computer Science

If you've heard of Tim Berners-Lee, it's probably because he's the man who invented the World Wide Web in 1989. Without his world-changing work, you might not be reading this article right now!

But TimBL, as he's sometimes known, hasn't been resting on his laurels during the intervening three decades. He has worked with the UK government to help keep online information open and accessible, and he's been a key voice in the ongoing fight to preserve net neutrality.

 

James Black

Birthplace: Uddingston, Scotland (1924)

Field: Pharmacology

James Black won a scholarship to the University of St Andrews at the age of 15, and graduated from the university's prestigious School of Medicine - the oldest in Scotland - in 1946. In another life, he might have gone on to be a doctor, but he decided against this career path because he objected to the insensitive way in which patients were treated at the time.

Instead, Sir James Black is best known for developing propranolol and cimetidine, which are still used to treat heart disease and stomach ulcers respectively. He was knighted in 1981 and won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988.

 

Brian Cox

Birthplace: Oldham, England (1968)

Field: Physics

Professor Brian Cox is something of a household name these days, but in the grand scheme of things, it really hasn't been that long since the most notable entry on his CV was playing keyboards for D:Ream (on whose biggest hit, 'Things Can Only Get Better', he didn't even feature!).

It was during his music career that Cox completed a degree in physics at the University of Manchester. After that, he went on to get a PhD in particle physics, and nowadays he can be seen / heard on all sorts of science-themed TV and radio programmes. He has also co-authored a number of physics books, and he works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

Speaking of which...

 

Lyn Evans

Birthplace: Aberdare, Wales (1945)

Field: Physics

Lyn Evans, nicknamed 'Evans the Atom', was the project leader of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland until 2008. He actually spent his first year at Swansea University studying chemistry, only switching to physics in his second year because - rather amusingly - he found physics easier.

Evans has been honoured with a number of science awards since stepping down as LHC project leader, including the Glazebrook Medal, the 2012 Special Fundamental Physics Prize, and the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal.

 

Rosalind Franklin

Birthplace: London, England (1920)

Field: Chemistry

In 1951, Rosalind Franklin - already an accomplished X-ray crystallographer - became a research associate at King's College London. Famously, her work at King's would prove crucial to the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule that holds the genetic instructions for the growth and reproduction of every organism on planet Earth.

Franklin sadly died of ovarian cancer at just 37 years old. She was not nominated for a Nobel Prize in her lifetime, although her colleagues Francis Crick, James Watson and Maurice Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1962, once DNA structure had been widely accepted as proven science. To this day, there is still debate over the degree to which Crick, Watson and Wilkins were taking credit for Franklin's work; as a result, she has become somewhat iconic of the discrimination that women in STEM fields face.

 

Isabella Gordon

Birthplace: Keith, Scotland (1901)

Field: Marine Biology

Dr Isabella Gordon was a leading expert in carcinology, the study of crustaceans (crabs and sea spiders were her particular speciality). During her 86 years of life, she worked at the Natural History Museum - no doubt a dream job for many British biology enthusiasts - received an OBE, and became a Fellow of the Zoological Society.

She also had the distinction of meeting with Emperor Hirohito while visiting Japan in 1961. The 'Grand Old Lady of Carcinology' (as she was posthumously dubbed) was invited to the laboratories of the Imperial Household and spoke to the Emperor, who was apparently something of a marine biology enthusiast himself.

 

Stephen Hawking

Birthplace: Oxford, England (1942)

Field: Theoretical Physics

What can we say about Stephen Hawking that you don't already know? BBC Earth have a great article listing Hawking's many scientific achievements (as well as the fact that he has appeared on TV shows like The Simpsons and Star Trek), so if you're not familiar with his work, we'd recommend starting there.

Stephen Hawking famously lived with motor neurone disease, which is why he used a wheelchair and communicated via American-accented voice software. When Hawking was first diagnosed, doctors estimated that he had approximately 2 years to live; that was in 1963, when Hawking was 21 years old. He eventually died in March 2018, a couple of months after his 76th birthday.

 

Peter Higgs

Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, England (1929)

Field: Theoretical Physics

Ever heard of the Higgs boson? Peter Higgs is the man for whom that particle was named. He is a Nobel laureate who received the Prize for Physics in 2013 "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles". (Higgs shared the award with Belgian physicist François Englert in a great testament to the collaborative, border-crossing spirit of modern science.)

Rather remarkably, Higgs was awarded honorary degrees by 15 different institutions between 1997 and 2015. He was even offered a knighthood just prior to the turn of the millennium, but unlike some of the other people on this list, he turned it down, expressing his cynicism towards the British honours system.

 

Steve Jones

Birthplace: Aberystwyth, Wales (1946)

Field: Genetics

John Stephen Jones was rejected by all of the Welsh universities he applied for, so he ended up going to Scotland and studying zoology at the University of Edinburgh. Years later, he would be made Head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London.

Jones published a number of books and presented various TV programmes on the subject of evolution. The study of snails has proven a particular area of interest for him. In 1996, he won the Michael Faraday Prize for his contributions to public understanding of science.

 

Mary Leakey

Birthplace: London, England (1913)

Field: Palaeoanthropology

British palaeontologist Mary Leakey is notable primarily for discovering the first fossilised skull of Proconsul, an extinct primate that existed approximately 25 million years ago and is now thought to be an ancestor of human beings. She found the skull on Rusinga Island, a small island in Lake Victoria (that lies within the borders of Kenya).

The Proconsul skull was far from Leakey's only discovery, though - over the course of her career, she discovered no fewer than 15 new animal species, and 1 new genus. In 2013, 100 years after her birth, Mary Leakey's face appeared on both a Royal Mail postage stamp and a Google doodle.

 

Anne McLaren

Birthplace: London, England (1927)

Field: Developmental Biology

Millions of people currently walking the Earth were born via IVF (in-vitro fertilisation). This technology, which first yielded results in the 1970s, has allowed many would-be parents to conceive children they would otherwise have been unable to have.

Dame Anne McLaren's work was instrumental in the development of IVF as a viable solution to infertility problems. She was an officer of the Royal Society - the first woman to hold the position - as well as a Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She was sadly killed in a car accident at the age of 80, but her name lives on to this day: The Anne McLaren Memorial Trust Fund was founded after her death to support scientific study and events.

 

Alan Turing

Birthplace: London, England (1912)

Fields: Mathematics, Computer Science

Despite being dead for more than 60 years, Alan Turing was in the news recently when the passage of the so-called 'Alan Turing law' retroactively pardoned men who, like Turing himself, were convicted for their homosexuality. You might also remember the 2014 movie The Imitation Game, in which Turing was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch.

If you saw that film, you know exactly why Turing is so famous: his code-breaking techniques enabled the Allies to defeat Axis forces in a number of key engagements during World War II. Turing's role in the eventual Allied victory was underappreciated during his lifetime, and he tragically died of cyanide poisoning in 1954 after being convicted of gross indecency and chemically castrated by his own government.

 

Elsie Widdowson

Birthplace: Wallington, England (1906)

Fields: Chemistry, Dietetics

Elsie Widdowson was a highly influential dietitian who, like Alan Turing, did her most notable work during World War II. As you're probably aware, rationing was introduced in Britain during the war in order to ensure that food supplies didn't run out. Widdowson, together with her colleague Dr Robert McCance, was tasked with overseeing the rationing effort, making sure that people were getting the nutrition they needed even during extreme food shortages.

Widdowson and McCance are also known for heading up the very first government-mandated addition of vitamins and minerals to food (e.g. adding calcium to bread). She became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1976, a CBE in 1979, and she died in 2000 at the age of 93.

 

Robert Winston

Birthplace: London, England (1940)

Fields: Medicine, Biology

Recognisable by his signature moustache, the Right Honourable Lord Winston has done a lot of work to get the general public interested in biology and medicine. He has hosted a litany of BBC series, including Your Life in Their Hands, Child of Our Time, The Human Body, and many more.

Robert Winston is also a medical doctor. He graduated from The London Hospital Medical College in 1964 and quickly established himself as an expert in human fertility. He actually performed the world's first Fallopian tubal transplant in 1979 (although this procedure is seldom used nowadays, having been superseded by IVF - see Anne McLaren, above).

 

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Many scientific jobs are based in laboratories, and even if you've experienced a lab environment in school or university, you might well wonder what it's like to actually work in a lab.

Working in a lab

Here are some of the best and worst things about working in a lab:

 

Lab equipment is expensive and delicate

In case you didn't already know, laboratory equipment tends to be pretty expensive. If you happen to be a bit on the clumsy side, you may find yourself racking up quite the replacement bill if you're not careful. Most science work requires concentration and precision, so take it easy if around the most delicate equipment if these aren't your strong points.

 

Your social life may have to take a back seat

When working in a lab, you commit yourself to the experiments you take on. Unfortunately, this can mean that your working hours become somewhat irregular, and other social activities have to be put on hold. Be prepared for your work schedule to be a bit changeable!

 

Your work can be dangerous

When you talk to your friends who maybe work within the construction industry or in factories, you may hear them say how dangerous their line of work is and how they could have an accident at any given time. When you work in a lab, the same thing applies to you! Working with infectious agents, caustic chemicals and electrified apparatus can put your health and safety in major danger, so be careful!

 

You actually have to dress like a scientist

You've most likely seen a load of lab work in movies or on TV, where the workers are dressed in long white coats with huge safety goggles protecting their faces. This is surprisingly true to real life - lab coats and goggles are part of the uniform, primarily because of the health and safety concerns mentioned above.

If you're looking for lab-based work, Hyper Recruitment Solutions can help you! Click the link below to browse the latest scientific from all over the UK!

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Science jobs for students

Are you studying for some sort of science degree at the moment?

We know how hard it can be to find a job while you're a student (and immediately after you graduate), so in this blog, we'll talk you through some different science student job options that you might want to consider pursuing.

While you study

As a science student, there are lots of job opportunities you can take advantage of in tandem with your studies. Some of the best science student jobs include:

  • Internships

  • Volunteering at your university

  • A year in industry

There are lots of scientific companies - including engineering companies, science journals, research departments and more - who offer both paid and unpaid job opportunities to students. Even if these vacancies aren't advertised online, it's always worth enquiring!

You'll have to choose whether to work alongside your studies during term time or for longer periods over the summer holidays. Think carefully about how much time you need to dedicate to your studies and work from there. You don't want to let your studies suffer, no matter how beneficial work experience might be!

Whatever student job you choose to pursue will look great on your CV in the long term. Dedicating your spare time to a science job not only shows that you're enthusiastic about your chosen field, it also shows a willingness to work and an ability to organise your time that other students may not demonstrate during their studies.

How can HRS help?

Here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, we offer a comprehensive science recruitment service that is ideal for science students who have recently graduated from university. We can help you to find and apply for a science job with ease - use the links below to browse our latest vacancies or read more about what we have to offer science graduates!

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Women in Science

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which takes place on the 11th of February every year, was created by the United Nations as part of the ongoing effort to address gender imbalance in core STEM subjects and promote the participation of women in scientific roles.

The Statistics

Across 14 different countries, the percentage of women graduating from universities with degrees in science-related subjects are as follows:

  • Bachelor's Degree: 18%
  • Master's Degree: 8%
  • PhD: 2%

These low figures are quite disheartening, as are reports that under 30% of scientific research and development roles are currently held by women.

The UN's International Day of Women and Girls in Science aims to encourage women and young girls to pursue an education or career in science and dramatically raise the above percentages.

Breaking Gender Stereotypes

To mark the occasion, we'd like to take a look at just some of the many prolific female scientists who have done vital work throughout history and helped to pave the way for gender equality in scientific fields:

Lise Meitner (1878-1968)

Lise Meitner was an Austrian-Swedish physicist who specialised in radioactivity and nuclear physics. Together with a select group of other scientists, she discovered nuclear fission of uranium - the basic principle of the nuclear weapons that were to follow.

Grace Hopper (1906-1992)

Grace Hopper was an American computer scientist. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark 1 computer, and she developed an early variation of the programming language COBOL which is still in use today.

Sandra Faber (1944- )

Sandra Faber is an astrophysicist specialising in the evolution of galaxies. Some of her important contributions to science include linking the brightness of galaxies to the speed of stars within them and helping to design the Keck telescopes in Hawaii.

Are you ready to pursue a career in science? HRS is here to help! Click the link below to browse a huge selection of science jobs spanning a variety of scientific fields.

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