This week’s post comes from Elle Seymour who reflects on her time as KT Coordinator of the NeuroDevNet KT Core, which is housed in York University’s KMb Unit. It first appeared on the NeuroDevNet KT Blog on September 11, 2014.
I will always think back on my time with NeuroDevNet with fondness and a great amount of respect for the people I have worked with and the things I have learned. When the KT Core moved to York, I was fortunate enough to become their new Coordinator. When I started this job I knew there would be a steep learning curve as I had never practiced KT before. This was made much easier by my manager, Anneliese Poetz, who also became a great mentor to me. Anneliese is extremely knowledgeable about KT and when you combine Anneliese and David (Phipps) you certainly have a tour de force on your hands. I worked closely with both Anneliese and David and cannot overstate how much I have learned from them. Apart from KT knowledge, Anneliese is a skilled videographer and has a knack for the visual arts as well as a slightly unhealthy love of puns. David’s passion for KT comes across whenever you talk to him and this passion makes him not only an expert on the subject but someone who motivates you to excel in your position.
I have always believed that you learn more from your challenges than your failures and there were certainly a few growing pains this year. At the time, these may have felt like failures, however, the wealth of information we gained has most certainly made it all worth it. One of the major challenges we faced this year was the Research Snapshot project. From technical to production aspects there seemed to always be a new problem. All of these problems turned into great lessons and I can move forward with the knowledge that every difficulty we experienced we overcame. Practice does in fact make perfect and I am happy and proud to have been part of the KT Core during this process and helping to finalize the first Research Snapshots for NeuroDevNet.
There were certainly a few surprises along the way and one of these was the fact that KT principles are easily transferrable. Previously I had thought that I would need to learn science-specific KT tools and techniques but this was not the case and I learned that much of KT is transferrable across a range of disciplines. Another surprise was the amount of people who conflate KT with communications. In my position as KT Coordinator I had the opportunity to see the difference first hand – for example, communications uses social media for information-push but we in KT use it for stakeholder engagement which includes information push and pull. The last surprise I encountered was how much I would grow to respect and love KT, in my opinion it is vastly underappreciated. Luckily, there are practitioners such as Anneliese and David who see the bigger picture and are willing to use KT to keep working towards a more impactful future.
I will miss this position as it has taught me so much and I feel as if there was a good mix of practical and theoretical as we were able to brainstorm how to solve problems and then apply the various solutions we had chosen. This meant that I did not feel alienated from the products the KT Core created and instead was involved in every step of the process. I feel as if the field of KT allows more room for creativity than many other disciplines which is refreshing to see in the current job market. What’s next in store for me? I am hoping to continue working in KT in London (UK) as I still feel as if I have a lot to learn and contribute. I am also considering the possibility of pursuing a PhD. What comes next is uncertain, however, I am absolutely convinced that whatever career path I pursue this position has left a lasting and positive impact on me. It has given me a new perspective on community engagement and research and I believe it will strongly influence and shape my future work.