60 seconds with BrainWaves Communications Manager Rod Macrae
"I’d seen so many young people battling with anxiety and mental health to know that it was a project that could make a massive difference."
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORKING ON BRAINWAVES?
I’ve been involved with communications for a long time, especially in science, and started working as the Communications Manager for BrainWaves late in 2022. From the very start it excited me. I’d seen so many young people battling with anxiety and mental health to know that it was a project that could make a massive difference. Its huge ambition is impressive and in communications that means there are going to be plenty of stories to tell to all sorts of audiences.
Both my daughters have been part of the generation challenged by COVID, lockdowns and all the stresses that have followed. So, I know from personal experience at least something of the challenges faced by young people.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION OR HOPE FOR THE PROJECT?
The strap line you’ll see on the home page of the website sums it up well enough: Healthy young minds through science. Ultimately, by creating a cohort of young people who can contribute to scientific studies BrainWaves is creating something new with a big impact. It’s exciting to think we will learn so much that can directly feedback to young people and educators, helping them to better understand the young brain and teenage mental health.
WHAT IS CURRENTLY AT THE TOP OF YOUR TO-DO LIST?
At the moment we are creating lots of content to share with audiences on our website, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. Making sure the BrainWaves story is clearly understood. Already we have webinars to share with teachers and educators and we are recruiting schools to join the programme and use some terrific classroom materials. At the same time, we need to speak with lots of different people about it wants BrainWaves. It is a new project, so there is a lot of groundwork to do.
HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?
I have always been interested in storytelling. That’s what lies at the heart of communications. I actually began in public relations before working as a journalist and broadcaster for BBC, ITV and Reuters. All those early experiences taught me a lot about the importance of connecting with people. For instance, it’s far easier to explain your own story if you have listened and understood what interests your audience. That’s how we want to speak whoever we are engaging at BrainWaves.
My interest in science communications actually began in environmental science. I can certainly tell you exactly how cold the Arctic ocean is! Since then, telling all sorts of science stories has been a big part of my life.
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I get to work with great people. People with drive, passion and enthusiasm are fun to be around. As a non-scientist in a scientific world I am always fascinated by the research. I suppose I am a little envious of their projects knowing that what is happening around me could change people’s lives.
IF YOU WERE NOT IN YOUR JOB CURRENTLY, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING?
Oh, guilty secret time! When I was at school I spent a lot of time singing and playing music in groups and bands. I still play guitar, mandola, ukulele and mandolin. I’m in a number of groups, including an opera company, ukulele orchestra and a folk band. It’s all purely for fun, but if by some miracle music became a fulltime job, it would be wonderful. It won’t happen, but you’d not see me grumbling if it did.