Gavin hubbard communications officer

This month’s spotlight focuses on Gavin Hubbard*, CLAHRC Communications Officer. *In large part because he ran out of time to interview anyone else…

August 2015

Who are you and where are you from?

My name’s Gavin Hubbard and I’m originally from Norfolk. But don’t let that put you off, I’m quite normal really.

What’s your background?

I escaped the flat-lands of Norfolk to the University of Surrey, where I did a BSc in Medical Biochemistry.

Shortly after I arrived there I remarked that “it’s pretty damn hilly around here”. My geographical naïvety was immediately ridiculed by my ‘northern’ friends.

I was also surprised to find out, according to my ‘southern’ friends that I was Northern. I was, in fact, too East for accurate classification in this binary system….

After graduating I ended up working for a spin-out company from Oxford University called BioAnaLab, a bioanalytical clinical research organisation focussing on biologics (therapeutic antibodies and the like).

When I started there I was lab scientist in a company of about eight people. When I left, around 2012, I was managing an assay development team of 6 people in a company of about 50 people.

I left to try my hand as a freelance science writer, which I was doing up until I started working for the CLAHRC.

I had more success than I’d expected, and in that time I wrote news stories and features on everything from space weather and the microbiome, to the economics of waste disposal in Europe (as fun/interesting as it sounds). I did a lot of work for the EU’s science for environment policy news service.

I also did a ton(ne) of press releases, social media and design work for a range of different clients over that time. The odd bit of radio work and podcasting too.

What does your research focus on?

Erm… I’ll pretend that’s asking what my role is.

Communications is a multi-faceted, dynamic position; that is to say it’s pretty woolly and not that easy to nail down.

At a high level, part of my role is to identify all of the CLAHRCs different stakeholders, or groups of stakeholders, work out what the key messages we want to communicate to them are, why we want to do that, what are the best methods for communicating to that particular group.

So, for example, for commissioners at CCGs the key message might be “this works, will benefit your patients and save you money”. Its purpose is to influence them to take up and implement new, proven, findings, to help create or increase the impact of the CLAHRCs work, and to continue to build the reputation of CLAHRC Oxford.

The methods might be through various publications, such as BITEs or evidence briefs, professional networks and meetings, articles in newsletters or blogs on their websites, or direct communication.

Another part of what I do is to help any and all of our researchers with anything that might reasonably be thought of as coming under a communications umbrella. So that might be writing lay summaries of research, helping with websites, putting together public facing documents (including design and printing), help with podcasting or public engagement activities, help producing videos and so on.

I’m here to help. Use me.

Why is this important?

What’s the point in doing anything if the people who can actually affect change/use your findings don’t know about it?

What do you actually spend most of your time doing?

Mostly sitting in front of a screen drinking coffee….

What do you find most interesting or exciting about your role? What gets you out of bed everyday to do it?

It’s so varied. One day I might be interviewing people for the website, writing up a news story and doing social media. The next, I’m in Theme meetings catching up on where projects are and what’s new. Also, a large part of the job is about helping people to do things, which is always nice when you can.

Another thing I like is just being surrounded by so many different types of research, and getting to learn a bit about all of them. For a science nerd like myself, it’s great.

What’s next on your to-do list?

More lay summaries – give me your research info!

Who do you work with?

Any and all of you! But most closely with the CLAHRC core team, Alex Gardiner, Carla Betts, Karen Morecroft and Lynne Maddocks.

What’s the funniest/strangest thing to have happened to you in this/previous jobs?

I once forced someone to strip in the middle of a laboratory. True story.

I was a ‘radiation protection supervisor’ when I worked in the lab. One of the scientists in my team somehow managed to spill a vial of 32P labelled drug all over themselves. I had to hold a lab coat around them while they stripped, then hose them down.