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“I’m driven by creating change in our sector”

Five minutes with Anjana Khatwa, science presenter and museum learning professional

31 May 2021

Anjana says passion and creativity are the two most valuable qualities of science communicators

Anjana Khatwa is a science presenter and museum learning professional. After 15 years managing and developing the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site education programme, she is now Engagement Lead with Wessex Museums, as well as a freelance consultant. Anjana is recipient of the RH Worth Medal 2021 for services to geoscience education and outreach.

What’s a typical day for you?
I start my day by walking my daughter to school and chatting about all sorts of things, from earthquakes to Roblox. It never ceases to amaze me that even 20 minutes walking outside can have such a beneficial effect on your health and wellbeing.
My new job as Engagement Lead with Wessex Museums is based from home. I also work as a consultant and TV presenter – the latter being less glamorous than it sounds! Much of my day is spent in virtual meetings, delivering talks and training sessions focused on anything from science communication and engaging with nature, to diversity and inclusion. It’s inspiring work and those who have come to my sessions or worked with me know that I give so much of myself to the event. To recover from the fatigue of online working, I’ll often go for a run or a short walk to a nearby nature reserve to try to restore my energy.

What are you currently working on?
At Wessex Museums, I am innovating approaches in how to engage underserved audiences with our museums in these difficult times. One of our projects is helping a group of young Black people in an urban area learn about the impact of climate change on Brownsea Island. The group will be supported to create a response to this research and, excitingly, this will enter the permanent collections of Poole Museum. I am in high demand as a speaker and panellist at conferences, so I have a variety of talks and workshops to develop for various clients on equality, diversity and inclusion. I’m also creating a short film for the Great Science Share, explaining how rocks are handheld time machines, so there is plenty of variety in my work!

What’s your favourite thing about your job?
I love inspiring and engaging people from all backgrounds to be passionate about rocks, fossils and landforms. I am driven by creating change within our sector so we create programmes that genuinely reach out and inspire some of the most vulnerable in our society. I have held this passion close to my heart for over 20 years and it’s the key thing that gets me up in the morning!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone hoping to work in your field?
In the world of learning, engagement and science communication your greatest strength is your passion and creativity. Obviously, you need to have a decent understanding of the science, but, more importantly, you have to understand the needs of your audience and be adept enough to tailor content that excites and engages their attention and interest. This comes through experience, and every time you flunk and dive you learn and improve. I am fortunate enough to present science on TV to huge audiences now, but I started out with a classroom of sceptical trainee teachers and a chunk of rock! The loveliest feedback I get from audiences is that my infectious enthusiasm for rocks, fossils and landscapes is what inspires them to keep watching. Find that joy and always keep it alive because that is your greatest asset.

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