- develop improved crop varieties that can withstand biological and environmental stresses,
- develop mechanisms to reverse antibiotic resistance,
- develop a fine-scale understanding of the mosquito vector landscape in India to aid in the control of diseases like malaria and dengue,
- design therapeutic interventions for blood disorders.
Ann Vinod holds nine years of experience working in various aspects of content management and publishing. She started her career as a technical writer at IIT, Bombay, and currently works as a Communications Coordinator, at the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS). Before joining TIGS, she worked as a Business Development Manager at Notion Press, a book publishing company in Chennai, India. She developed media content for customer engagements, streamlining business processes, and ideating solutions for publishing books. Here, in conversation with Ann about marketing the science, her journey into science communication, and the unique opportunities presented at TIGS. You hold a diploma in Administration of Human Services and a master’s in Biomedical Genetics. Did the science and community connection drive your choice, or did the choice itself help you expand your thought process? I’ve always enjoyed learning science. The diploma course was something that I thought at the time would be a minor detour. But it turned out to be a life-changing experience. I had the privilege of learning from people who had dedicated their lives and careers to making a difference in society. It taught me the value of small but incremental changes. Our mentors encouraged us to participate in and sometimes organize community and outreach programs. They often revealed how ignorant we were of the real challenges that many people face every day. My love for science took me back on the path to a master’s in Biomedical Genetics. But the gap year course informed every choice I made in my personal and professional life. How did you venture into the world of science communication? I’ve had an unconventional journey into the field, being involved in different aspects of communications throughout my career. I’ve worked in editing, creating marketing publications for a research institute, coordinating projects, and developing client communications. But I hoped to apply these learnings in my core field of training. TIGS gave me a chance to do that. You have worked across different communication lifecycles, from a technical writer to freelancer, business development manager, and now a communications coordinator. What were the strengths and drawbacks of science marketing, or science being taken out to the world, you noticed during your career? One of our shortcomings as communicators of science is that we tend to sway to an extreme. We either simplify the message so much so that we end up with news headlines such as ‘Coffee causes cancer’ or our messages are so full of jargon that a layperson cannot help but swiftly swipe past them. Both extremes are bad PR for science. We need to detail the why, what, and how without diluting the complexities. This proves quite a challenge. You currently work as a communications coordinator at TIGS. How does it allow you to explore and understand different areas where community and genetics connect? The technologies that scientists are working on at TIGS are meant to be used to benefit society. TIGS has four main areas of focus: