Meet Nina Culum – Scientific Writer
There are two very sensitive questions that you could ask a graduate student: when they will be finishing their degree, and what they will be pursuing following graduation.
Near the end of my studies, I finally had a definitive answer to both of these questions, and no longer nervously laughed when asked. I could finally say with certainty that I wanted to make a career out of scientific writing, as I enjoyed it immensely as a Master’s student.
To my surprise, I usually received some degree of bewilderment in response. Who knew a lot of academics actually didn’t enjoy writing at all?
I should stress that my passion for writing was not newly discovered during my graduate studies, as I had a creative writing hobby when I was a child and teenager. Fun fact: I won a children’s poetry competition in the eighth grade and was published in an anthology book, which is now an ancient relic hidden in my childhood bedroom. For most of my life, however, writing largely stayed a hobby. Although I enjoyed artistic hobbies and extracurriculars, which also included sketching and playing the trumpet, I excelled in math and science, and thus chose to major in chemistry at the University of Waterloo.
Image: My first (and least well-known) publication.
I attended the University of Western Ontario for my MSc, and focused on physical and analytical chemistry during this time. My project was highly interdisciplinary, encompassing cell biology, nanofabrication, spectroscopy, and machine learning. I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to develop a platform and methodology for ovarian cancer detection, and I’m very grateful to have been able to publish two first author journal articles in the second year of my degree.
Writing these manuscripts (and even my thesis) made me realize how much I enjoy analyzing data, communicating results, and reviewing exciting research advances.
Following my MSc defense, I had the opportunity to dip my toes in the field of scientific writing as a freelancer for InsideScientific. While my tasks initially consisted of summarizing on-demand webinars for the website (which I really quite enjoyed, as I was able to learn about diseases and technologies outside of what I had studied in school), I was quickly asked to write original articles. I soon found myself conducting literature searches and writing articles about research advances in Alzheimer’s disease treatment, HIV/AIDS treatment, and biomarker discovery for cancer diagnosis.
I am very excited now to be working with the InsideScientific team in a full-time capacity, and contributing to the website on a much larger scale.
When I’m not working, my hobbies include reading (hit my 50 book goal in 2021 and will be attempting 100 in 2022!), weightlifting, baking, guitar playing, and stealing my fiancé’s parents’ dog, who happens to be a great writing assistant.
Image: My assistant, hard at work.