PODCAST: Science Careers in Entertainment

The quirky and fun, if unrealistic, laboratory of Dr. Walter Bishop on the sci-fi television show "Fringe." ©20th Century FOX, all rights reserved.

So ya wanna work in showbiz, eh kid, but all you’ve got is an astrophysics degree and the glint of stars in your eyes? Even five years ago, such a notion would have been unthinkable. Not only has sci-fi traditionally been regarded as a niche segment across all media markets, research into scientific accuracy and integrity, let alone in-house science advisors, were nonexistent. Today, with science content proliferating every year in mainstream film and television, and with sci-fi movies grossing better than ever at the box office (two of the biggest hits of the last six months were Inception and TRON: Legacy), careers for scientists in entertainment are more sought out than ever. ScriptPhD.com Editor/Creative Director Jovana J. Grbić and Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist/renowned television science advisor Kevin Grazier recently spoke at an Emory University career panel geared towards aspiring science advisors and consultants. We kick-start 2011 with podcasts of both talks. We hope you find inspiration, ideas, and that this year is one of immense success for all of our readers, collaborators and clients.

A little science in entertainment humor to start off the New Year from one of our favorite science-based parody comics, XKCD:

If there is a theme to 2011, it is surely change, in no more relevant an area than jobs. According to a recent Manpower survey, a whopping 84% of employees will be looking to make a change this year. However, with unemployment still hovering in the double digits, and 4.6 applicants for every job, more people than ever will start their own business or entrepreneurial venture.

Science training has long been renowned for its rigor and tradition. In addition to a 4-year college degree and a PhD that can take anywhere from 4-8 years, many scientists tack on additional multi-year postdoctoral fellowship specialties. Sorely lacking, at the end of this grueling decade, are options beyond professorships or careers in industry. With too many PhDs flooding the market for available jobs (terrific pieces on the subject here and here), creativity and guidance will be an essential part of training and employing the next young generation of scientists and engineers. To that extent, Emory University in Atlanta, GA has instituted a remarkably prescient, forward-thinking career seminar series geared towards generating out-of-the-box ideas for PhD students and postocs. ScriptPhD.com’s Jovana Grbic was honored to be an invited speaker, along with JPL physicist and notable television personality Kevin Grazier (National Geographic, Eureka, BSG). Podcasts of our talks, on careers as science advisors in entertainment and media, are posted below.

Seminar: Science Advising in Entertainment

Presentation by JPL physicist and Entertainment Advisor Dr. Kevin R. Grazier:

[audio:Kevin Grazier_Emory.mp3|titles=Emory Seminar on Science in Entertainment|artists=Kevin R. Grazier]

Presentation by ScriptPhD.com Editor/Creative Director Dr. Jovana J. Grbić:

[audio:Jovana Grbic_Emory.mp3|titles=Emory Seminar on Science in Entertainment|artists=Jovana J. Grbic]
We welcome any additional thoughts, ideas or contributions you may have to this discussion. What more would you like to see both in terms of science and technology content in popular culture, as well as opportunities for scientists to be a part of the process?

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6 thoughts on “PODCAST: Science Careers in Entertainment”

  1. I graduated two undergrads Biology and Genetics and currently doing a PhD on biochemistry. I love science.

    But at the same time, I love science fiction. So I’m hoping that even if I thread on the academic career, I could still do this kind of work as my “sideline”. 🙂

  2. By the way, I saw your website at CNN entry. And I hope you all the best for your book on Fringe. I really love the show, speaking as a scifi fan and a scientist.

    If you ever need help, send me an email! 🙂

    1. Hey there Xerophytes! Thanks so much for the most awesome comment. Always appreciate new folks stopping by.

      We are always looking for new contributors and writers, so if you have ideas, or are looking to just make some suggestions, drop me a line.

      As for the Fringe book, should be exciting. I’m contributing a chapter on infectious diseases, and the book is slated to come out late summer/early fall.

      Thanks again so much for the feedback. Got some exciting stuff planned for the summer and we do giveaways through our Facebook fan page, so join us there as well! Cheers!

  3. I am a scientist.I have taught chemistry for 30 years now and I also do acting,imitate funny voices like a pirate,Smeagol from Lord of the rings,I even retaught myself physics!I would love to work with you guys as a freelance writer as well as do some funny videos if that is what you are looking for.How much would I get paid?I have my masters in Physical Chemistry from the University of Florida.Check out my videos on youtube “Luigis polyatomic ions” and “Jeff Bianchini as Bill Nye the science guy.”I even sing and have recently been brushing up on magic tricks.I had 4 years of drama but have used it in my classroom as a tool for learning for over 20 years now.If you do not need a freelance funny entertaining scientist then maybe you could point me in the right direction!
    Drop me a line,Jeff Bianchini.

  4. F Big Bang Theory! We need a reality show on real grad students, not nerdy peeps. I love grad school and I really enjoy research, helping others, etc. We have a ton of fun and we aren’t awkward (the rest of the world may beg to differ). Why is the stereotype of scientists and engineers so bad? Media needs to portray us as being normal human beings, not isolated from society.

    1. Nice post, Panda! I actually agree with you 100% on this. With all of the misrepresentation of what scientists and ‘geeks’ are in today’s media culture (despite their ubiquity therein), it would be awesome if a reality show portrayed the ins and outs of attain a science dream. I’ll bet there would be plenty of drama and suspense!

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