Media fellowship puts biomedical expert behind the scenes at the BBC
University of Brighton’s Dr Sarah Pitt will team up with the BBC Science Unit as part of a Media Fellowship from the Association of British Science Writers.
As a virologist, Dr Pitt has made regular appearances on TV, radio and in print since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing expert insights on the disease itself, as well as infection rates, new variants and vaccinations. More recently, she has been called upon to comment on other topics such as the discovery of polio in London water and the ongoing monkeypox outbreak.
Now Dr Pitt will get to see the media at work from the other side thanks to an annual scheme run by the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) which provides a unique opportunity for practising scientists, clinicians and engineers to spend 2-6 weeks working at the heart of a leading media operation, such as the BBC, The Guardian or Sky News.
As well as bridging the gap between journalists and scientists to build better understanding between science and society, practical engagement with media professionals will help Fellowship winners understand why and how stories are selected and shared.
Dr Pitt was put forward for the Media Fellowship by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS). In addition to being a Fellow of the IBMS – and its 2021 Biomedical Scientist of the Year – she is its Chief Examiner for Virology, and is involved in setting professional exams, the Specialist portfolio and continuing professional development activities. She has also published text books to support student learning, as well as working in hospital diagnostic laboratories in the UK, Africa and Central Asia. Dr Pitt also helped produce guidance documents to assist laboratory staff in hospitals, the public and schools involved in lateral flow testing.Dr Sarah Pitt, Principal Lecturer in the University of Brighton’s School of Applied Sciences & Centre for Stress and Age-Related Disease, said: “I would like to thank the IBMS and the ABSW for offering me this great opportunity, and my department at the University of Brighton for supporting me to accept it. I have done quite a few media interviews and contributed articles over the last couple of years. I am looking forward to finding out more about what it is like to prepare and produce programmes and understand more about the journalists’ perspective on science news stories.
“I hope to use the experience to continue to raise the public profile of the Institute of Biomedical Science. Our members bring amazing commitment, dedication and creativity to patient care and scientific developments every day. I would like to find ways to tell our stories about the science that excites us – in my case microbiology! – and who we are as scientists.“