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Simon Clarke with a newsreader in a TV studio

Breaking down complicated information to people is a vital skill as a scientist. As a regular guest on TV and radio, Dr Simon Clarke has been unscrambling the complicated and in-depth scientific information about the Covid-19 crisis to the nation.

At Reading, we pride ourselves on having academics who are at the forefront of their fields and use their research to improve the quality of teaching. We are a research-intensive institution where our researchers teach, and our teachers research, which allows students to be part of and learn from current, real-world research.

You may have seen Simon throughout the pandemic on TV, radio, online and in print, dispelling myths and breaking down complicated scientific information. He has been a point of call for global media, due to his expertise in the field of microbiology.

“I've been consulted by media all around the world. I've been used as an interviewee to explain to people what's happening with the Covid-19 pandemic, and what we might expect to happen in the future. There are many areas of misconceptions with the public. For example, thinking if a person has antibodies against Covid-19 they’re completely immune, which unfortunately is not true. I have been able to use examples such as this to develop teaching at Reading."

Simon is not only a media personality. He is also Associate Professor in Cellular Microbiology at Reading, one of Reading’s academics focused on being part of the solution to real-world problems. Simon is focused on his ongoing research and experience informing the curriculum, adding to the rich research-led teaching environment, where students can learn from global real-world research.

“In my teaching I try and reflect on what I think are the most important aspects of infectious disease research, in various contexts. For example, in my research I do not work on viruses, I work on bacteria, but many of the principles are the same in terms of sort of general infection, and I try and use what I learned through my research in other areas to build on it.”

Simon confirms the importance of being a good communicator as a scientist and realises the value of equipping graduates with these skills whatever their industry.

“Students developing skills in science communication is essential. Undergraduates from Reading’s School of Biological Sciences will go onto a wide range of careers. They need to have the skills to communicate, in whatever field they work in. The development of students’ skills in in-person and written communication of findings, is absolutely essential.”

Studying at the School of Biological Sciences puts students into a community which goes beyond simply learning what academics research. The curriculum utilises Reading’s academic research combined with other world class research, so students are developing the skills and understanding that allows them to conduct their own research, and be equipped with skills for their future roles.

“It is important that students at Reading don’t just graduate from university learning what their academics specialise in. Instead, that their research is understood, and that research informs the development of the curriculum. If I do one thing with students, it is to understand that there are no black and white answers. And that if there's any point in doing science, it's to understand that our knowledge develops and changes over time.”

Choosing to study at Reading as part of the School of Biological sciences, you will have the opportunity to collaborate with academics like Simon who are passionate about their research and your future success.

The next chapter of your story could be here at Reading – meet the team