Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Brian Macken from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

 

Brian Macken

Science Communicator

Smart Futures

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  Brian Macken

I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.

I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.

But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould).  However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.

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A day in the Life of an Econophysicist

"We discuss is the future of our work on correlations of stocks on the London Stock Exchange. This work was based on nuclear physics techniques". 

Arrive at the office, not so early in the morning. I prefer to work during the evenings, it is more inspiring. The first thing that I do is to check the new articles related to my field on the Physics arXiv, an online archive with many of the most recent articles published in a wide range of branches of physics.

I spend some time preparing everything (registration and travel) for a conference that will take place in two months. It is always very important to present our work at international conferences. However, in an interdisciplinary field like mine the comments of researchers from different backgrounds have even more importance.

Because of this, I leave my office to meet a collaborator at the School of Business Studies. Some progress in our work is made when I present him with the new results about the existence (or not) of a real estate bubble in Ireland.

After lunch, I have my Econophysics group meeting. The first topic that we discuss is the future of our work on correlations of stocks on the London Stock Exchange. This work was based on nuclear physics techniques applied to a time series of stocks. A network of stocks, whose connections meant strong correlations, was built to study the cluster of stocks in industrial sectors.

The second topic is about our study on wealth distributions in societies. We compute models and compare it with real data from U.K., Ireland and Portugal. Some of these results are in a chapter that we are writing for an econophysics book.

After the meeting, I return to my office. Back to business on my computer! My work is divided in computational and analytical studies. In the computational one, I construct programs to simulate models or to analyse data. In the analytical study, I work on some maths and physics together to find the underlying nature of theory. Right now I’m developing new routines to one of my programs in order to obtain better results.

Time for a hot cappuccino break. I pick one of the many articles piled on my desk. It is amazing how many different subject areas econophysics is now divided into, and how much work has been done by econophysicists during the last decade.

Around 9 p.m. I leave the office. Stop for some shopping and go home.

Tomorrow, I’m sure that I will meet someone surprised with this word econophysics. After all, that happens every day!

Article by: Ricardo Coelho ~ Institute of Physics in Ireland