Today’s nerd is a colleague of mine from the Department of International Development – the most excellent (and only occasionally scary) Beth Scott…
1. What flavour of nerdy scientist are you?
Just because I’m an anthropologist/behavioural scientist do NOT tell me I am ‘not a proper scientist’…Science A-levels, followed by a BA (Anthropology) and then an MSc (Control of Infectious Diseases) and a long stint as a Research Fellow, I do qual and quant work and am probably best described as a bit of a mixed up scientist, or maybe I’m the equivalent to ambi-dextrous? And confession time…I’m a total monitoring and evaluation geek – don’t design your metrics right and you won’t deliver an effective intervention.
2. What do you do now?
I’m a ‘Health Advisor’ in DFID working in a team that commissions international health research, from the development of new drugs through to systems-based research to improve healthcare delivery in less-developed countries.
3. What has research got to do with international development?
Everything – I mean, do you simply make up your interventions and hope they work? Research is critical to telling us what works, how it works, informing programme design and delivery, measuring impact etc etc. It’s just that people find the word ‘research’ scary (and the words monitoring and evaluation even scarier) and we have to find other ways to describe what we’re doing sometimes.
4. What have you been up to recently?
All sorts. I’ve spent a weekend sitting in a dark hotel room near Chales de Galle airport, at a Research Programme Consortium Partners’ meeting as they bash out a new cross-country research project; there were a couple of days at the Product Development Partnerships Funders Group hearing about all sorts of wonderful advancements in drug and diagnostics discovery for malaria and neglected tropical diseases; and I’ve launched a call for a programme of implementation research to improve the delivery of integrated neglected tropical disease control programmes on the ground.
5. What advice would you give to other science types who want to work in development?
You’ve got to spend time overseas and make the time to really understand the reality of people’s lives on the ground. Always remain focussed on the impact you are hoping to having rather than starting with ‘what’ you want to do (outcomes rather than inputs driven).
6. Tell us something to make us smile?
I’m off to scare people for the weekend. Literally. I will don a big black cape and a mask and jump out of the shadows at people as they travel through the ‘Scaresville’ experience at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk. A brilliant way to unwind and offload stress at the end of a busy period at work 🙂