From lab to lawmaking: PML participates in the Royal Society 'Pairing scheme'
31 March 2023
The initiative is designed to give scientists and policymakers an opportunity to experience each other’s worlds.Marine Ecosystem Modeller Dr Lee de Mora swapped the corridors of the laboratory for the corridors of power this week (March 27 - March 31) to attend a ‘Week in Westminster’ as part of the Royal Society’s annual pairing scheme.
The prestigious initiative is designed to give academics an insight into how parliament and government functions and how research findings are used to inform policy-making. Through the scheme, successful applicants “make lasting relationships with parliamentarians and civil servants as well as fellow scientists working across a wide range of scientific disciplines”.
Around 250 applications are made for the scheme each year with the 30 successful candidates ‘paired’ with the constituency MP for the institute they represent, a peer or a senior civil servant. Over the week the scientists take part in workshops, hear from several eminent invited speakers, tour Westminster palace, attend a mock select committee hearing, and spend time with their pair. The MP, Peer or Civil Servant is then invited to visit the scientist’s home institution and learn more about their work in person. Previous participants from PML include Dr Liz Talbot (2022), Dr Matthew Frost (2017), and Dr Caroline Hattam (2015).
For this year’s scheme, Dr de Mora was paired with Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport and shadow Minister for the Armed Forces.
Dr de Mora said:
“This has been a tremendous experience, seeing the day to day life within Westminster. In one morning alone, I met Luke's team, followed in on a media interview, discussed the future of low carbon trains with National Rail and GWR, and attended the House of Commons for the Child Q debate. So while these activities don’t sound like they align with my scientific work on climate change modelling, seeing the processes and activities of MPs was very insightful for understanding the links between science and policy.
Outside my time with Luke, the Royal Society hosted several excellent seminars from MPs, senior civil servants, and Royal Society members about the interactions between the science sector and government.
I’m very grateful to the Royal Society for this opportunity, to Luke for hosting me and to the MPs, Lords and civil servants who participated. It's truly been an exceptional experience and I highly recommend the programme to other scientists.”
Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society said: “The collaboration between scientists and policymakers is essential if we are to continue fostering the UK’s potential as a scientific superpower.
“Bringing these groups together and providing them with a glimpse into each other’s worlds can build relationships and skills, which is vital to solving pressing scientific issues of our time, from climate change to infectious diseases.”
This year’s pairing scheme was launched on Monday 27th March at an evening reception formally hosted by Rt Hon Greg Clark MP and titled “UK Science: Finding long-term solutions to long-term problems”. Speeches were given by Dame Julie Maxton (Executive Director, Royal Society), Stephen Metcalfe MP, and Chi Onwurah MP (Shadow Minister for Science.)
PML was represented at the reception by Dr Lee De Mora, Head of Communications and Marketing Dan Jones and Ecosystems Services Scientist Claire Szostek.
About the Royal Society
The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. For more information: www.royalsociety.org