5 things school children should know about animal research

The blog post was originally posted on GlamSci website on 22 March 2017.

Image: Understanding Animal Research

Smallpox, anthrax, rabies, polio and many other vaccines.; insulin; chemotherapy for leukaemia; asthma medication; combined therapy for HIV infection; medicines for breast and prostate cancer; cervical cancer vaccine. That’s just a handful of world’s major medical advances that animal research has contributed to and I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t benefited from any of them.

The reason I want to talk to you about animal testing is because when I was at school, I knew nothing about it. You might have even done some animal dissection at school, for example, of a frog. I didn’t. In Lithuania (which is where I am from), this subject is pretty much a taboo and that alone makes me want to talk about it with you. Continue reading


#MoreToScience – what’s it like to be a science writer?

Continuing the GlamSci series, this time about careers outside the lab – science writing.


I’m very keen on making it clear that there is #MoreToScience (what a lovely hashtag!) than the lab. In December, when I started this blog series, I promised you that I would introduce you to more career options after a science degree, in addition to science policy. I didn’t need to look far, only around my office, to find a bunch of science-educated people who found fulfilling careers outside the lab. They have kindly volunteered their time to tell you a little bit about themselves and the work they do.

In the future you will read about people working in education policy, marketing, training and public engagement. First story is about working in science writing (it is as cool as it sounds!).


SONY DSCTom Ireland, Science writer and Editor of The Biologist magazine

I chose to pursue a career in biology because… as a child I was obsessed with finding…

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Talking about making informed decisions…

Second post for the @GlamSci series, this time about evidence and making informed decisions.


15723503_10154718354972040_117433556554005873_o.jpg I admit, I’m a sucker for a good motivational quote. Especially in January. Image from @visual.dialogue

If there are only a couple of things you’ll remember from my blog series, I want one of them to be that just because you studied science, it doesn’t mean you have to work in a lab. Second, it’s okay to change your mind about what you want to study/work in as time goes (unless you want to go into medicine that needs a bit more planning and commitment). Very few decisions made at the age of 18 are wise or well-informed (I can say that because I’ve been there). We pick a course because it is vaguely in the direction of our interest, or what we think our interest is. I thought I’d be a biomedical scientist  and I ‘decided’ that without having even been in a lab! Having said that, some of…

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Science policy: the whys and hows of science and research

My first blog post for GlamSci series.


gabi_portrait_900x1200-websiteWhy do some countries allow genetically modified food and others don’t? Who decides how much money the country spends on scientific research? Why are the ethnic minorities, women and LGBT communities underrepresented in science? Human population is increasing and so is the challenge of food security: what can we do about it? How can the countries around the world work together to tackle antimicrobial resistance or climate change? Three-parent babies: is this ethically appropriate and if so, when? How do we communicate sensitive topics, such as genome editing, to the general public? This is just a tiny fraction of what topics science policy includes.

I’m sure you would have heard about most of them but simply didn’t know that it was called science policy. A great deal of it involves dealing with and influencing the Government and the Members of Parliament. But that certainly isn’t my daily bread and…

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Science and engineering in 30 years: where will we be?

Biochemical Society

By Gabriele Butkute, Science Policy Officer at the Biochemical Society and the Royal Society of Biology

case30-2What world do we want to live in in 30 years time? What values do we want the society to live by? How will science and engineering affect our life going forward and what is the role that they should play? These are among the questions that were asked during the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) 30th anniversary celebrations on Monday 14th November.  The event looked ahead at the role of science and engineering over the next 30 years and discussed what we can do now to make the future that we want a reality.

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Insights into animal research

Biochemical Society

By Gabriele Butkute, Science Policy Assistant at the Biochemical Society and the Royal Society of Biology

Animal research has led to the development of asthma inhalers, anaesthetics, vaccines and antibiotics. I’d be surprised if there was a person who hasn’t benefited from at least

UAR 5Image: Understanding Animal Research

one of the above. Yet, there are many people who oppose animal research and still associate it with testing cosmetics, which has been illegal in the UK and EU since 1998 and 2013 respectively. A recent survey by UAR has showed that only 38% were aware of this.

As a signatory of the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research, the Biochemical Society was recently offered a visit to the King’s College London animal research facility which was kindly organised by Understanding Animal Research. King’s College London was awarded the Openness Award due to its outstanding achievements in raising awareness of…

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#MyCareerStory -Science Policy

Thanks, Amara, for interviewing me! Happy to share my experience on getting into science policy.

The Aspiring Professionals Hub

Career2In today’s #MyCareerStory, Amara had the opportunity to interviewGabriele Butkute. Gabriele currently works as a Science Policy Assistant at the Royal Society of Biology and the Biochemical Society and in this insightful interview helps to demystify an often overlooked pathway for science graduates. Enjoy!

APH: Can you tell us about your educational background and career progression to date?

GB – I’m originally from Lithuania, which is where I completed my high school diploma cum laude. Soon after my graduation I came to London, had a gap year working in the hospitality business – which is really what people say when they worked as a waitress/waiter! I then embarked on a BSc Biomedical Science degree at London Met, from where I graduated almost two years ago now. Right after my graduation I got a fixed term job as an Events and Administrative Assistant at the Royal Society of Biology…

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My time in science policy

This year I had the great experience of supervising a policy intern, who worked with me at both, the Biochemical Society and the Royal Society of Biology for over two months. See how it went and read why Michael thinks it is important for all students to undertake internships outside their field and (often) outside their comfort zone!

Biochemical Society

By Michael Wood, Policy Intern at the Biochemical Society (January – March 2016) and PhD student, University of Leicester

VOF_MichaelIt is almost impossible to know if you will like a job before starting, by which point it is usually too late to change your mind. Internships offer the freedom to spend some time exploring a job without any long-term obligations and can therefore be a perfect introduction to a new field of work. As part of the first year of my doctoral training programme , I was encouraged to spend three months in an area of science outside of research. Admittedly, I was not looking forward to this and considered it a waste of time that could be better spent getting on with my research project. This was partially due to the fact that I had almost no idea what area I would like to do my internship in, but after…

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Coming out in STEM

This post was originally published on the Royal Society of Biology blog, on 16 February 2016.

“I don’t mind people who are gay; I just don’t want that flaunted in my face”. That’s what Fran Cowling, one of the panel members at The Royal Society’s event, Out in STEM was once told.

While unfortunately similar remarks can still be heard regarding LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) people, most of the panel members said they had experienced a lot of support from friends and colleagues when they had decided to come out. They said they felt a sense of liberation as they no longer had to lead two lives and hide who they truly were. “Although I have encountered some isolated examples of unpleasantness, I can’t say that my career has suffered any adverse consequences”, writes Peter Coles, one of the speakers.

So when choosing to be out in the workplace or when studying – what influences this choice?

WATCH: Sally Le Page, evolutionary biology PhD student at The University of Oxford and maker of  Shed Science videos, on her sexuality and why she thinks queer visibility is important in STEM:

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