Hello, I?d like to introduce myself as Next Wave?s new editor in the UK, taking over from Kirstie Urquhart. She is still working for Next Wave, looking after the content for our expanded pan-European Web site.

I was halfway through my Ph.D. program in immunology when I first came across Next Wave, and it came as a blessing. Really, there are some people like me out there, who love science, want to work in science, yet do not want to be scientists?

By the time my Ph.D. was over I had studied science for a staggering 9 years. The reason behind so many years is that, as all foreign students find out, education systems unfortunately do not quite fit across countries.

After my baccalaureate (equivalent to A-levels), I studied all of the scientific subjects at the French ?classes préparatoires?. The whole aim of these institutions is to prepare students for competitive examinations leading to the elitist French engineering schools (?Grandes Ecoles?). Although at the time we all wished we had never enrolled, I think we are now grateful for the solid scientific background we were given there.

I spent another 3 years specialising in biotechnology at the ?Ecole Supérieure de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg? (ESBS). The really cool thing about the ESBS is that students are recruited not only from France but also from Germany and Switzerland. There, I learned to reconcile my passion for both science and languages, and these two are now inseparable.

I then signed up for 3 more years for a Ph.D. at Bristol University. But if I had so far tremendously enjoyed my studies, somehow working at the bench did not appeal as much to me. The obvious eventually struck me: What I love about science is the challenge of understanding its concepts, so that I can share them with anybody who is interested! This is when Next Wave came into the picture--it gave me the advice and resources I needed and, more than anything, the confidence that I could make the break from the bench.

I was lucky enough to be accepted by Cardiff University for a postgraduate course in popular journalism, and even got a grant from the Association of British Science Writers and the Wellcome Trust. The course gave me invaluable hands-on experience and I just loved being a journalist--well, as long it was about science! You can read more about my experiences in my earlier Next Wave article.

Not only did Next Wave?s team members help me find my vocation and support my career transition, but they are now giving me the opportunity of doing just what I love. As for having been at the receiving end of Next Wave?s assistance myself, now I feel very dedicated to offering this support to you, early-career scientists in the UK--and the best way you can help me to help you is by letting me know about any of your interests and preoccupations.

Epain@science-int.co.uk

Elisabeth Pain is contributing editor for Europe.