Croucher Science Communication Studentship: To Yuen Man

27 December 2023

Croucher Science Communication Studentships are designed for people with a passion to communicate the wonder and importance of science to a wider audience. A few weeks ago, we spoke to Smriti Safaya about her postdoctoral work in science communication in the UK.

More recently, we caught up with To Yuen Man, who was a recipient of a Croucher Science Communication Studentship in 2020, to hear about her experience.

Before embarking on her master’s degree, To had a rich career as a teacher in Hong Kong, where she spent over two decades as a teacher. Her passion for explaining science led her to guide students through science research projects, fostering their research skills and igniting her own curiosity about how different cultures approach science promotion.

When a friend suggested to her that she might wish to develop her career in science communication, she decided to apply for the Croucher Science Communication Studentship.

To chose the Masters course at the University of Kent in the UK, where it is offered through the history department, for its unique approach to science communication. Reflecting on the course, she highlighted not only its focus on science writing and media production, but also the value of understanding the development of science from a historical perspective. The rigorous coursework, which included an in-depth study of science in the Age of Enlightenment as well as the development of medical science, proved to be challenging yet illuminating.

“It was inspiring to look at science and scientists from a cultural and historical standpoint,” she told us.

One of the most significant lessons To took from the course was how to become a more effective communicator. She learned that to engage the public, one must prioritise clear and captivating communication over extensive scientific knowledge—a principle she now applies by designing hands-on science activities with household items, allowing students to explore science in the comfort of their homes.

“Parents in Hong Kong like to see their children busy with hands-on learning activities at home”, she said.

Her time in England was more than just academic; it was a life-changing experience that broadened her horizons and reshaped her career path. To found living in England enriching, appreciating the opportunity to immerse herself in a different culture and learning environment.

She stressed the value of science communication to society, in making science more accessible and relatable, bridging the gap between complex scientific concepts and public understanding.

“During the pandemic, we saw the importance of clear communication about science”, To said.

Reflecting on her journey, To wishes she had known more about the breadth and depth of science communication before her studies. Her advice to prospective applicants for the Croucher Science Communication Studentship is heartfelt: seize the opportunity to learn and grow. “It’s really important to keep your mind open to new experiences and ideas and be brave enough to step out of your comfort zone,” she added.

For those inspired by To Yuen Man’s story and interested in applying for a Croucher Science Communication Studentship, more information is available on our website. This opportunity is not just an educational pursuit; it’s a gateway to making a difference in how we perceive and interact with the scientific world.