From Lab Bench to Backbench

Dr Andreea Font from the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University is swapping a lab coat for legislation as she visits Justin Madders MP, at the House of Commons in Westminster this week. This is part of a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society – the UK’s national academy of science, with support from  the Government Office for Science.

During her visit Dr Font is shadowing Justin Madders MP, who is the Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston and Shadow Minister for Health, and learning about his work. As well as attending seminars and panel discussions about how evidence is used in policy making, Dr Font will also attend a mock Select Committee. 

The visit will provide Dr Font with a behind the scenes insight into how policy is formed and how her research can be used to make evidence  based decisions. It will also give Justin Madders MP the opportunity to investigate the science behind his decisions and improve their access to scientific evidence. 
The week began with a reception in parliament where Professor Brian Cox OBE, FRS, explained why policy makers and researchers must work together to ensure the UK’s excellent science is used  to improve people’s lives and tackle global challenges.

Dr Andreea Font said: 

“I’m looking forward to getting a first-hand insight into how science policy is shaped in parliament by working directly with the Shadow Health Minister who has a diverse and relevant portfolio. This is a critical time for UK research, as the political and industrial landscape evolves, and I want to learn as much as possible about how scientists like me, can help and ensure Government understands the real impact we bring to society and the world around us.”

Justin Madders MP said:

“Parliament engages with the academic and research community in a variety of ways but opportunities like the Royal Society’s pairing scheme are fantastic for deepening these essential relationships. I’m delighted to be paired with Dr Andreea Font  from the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University, one of the world's leading authorities in astronomy and astrophysics. This week will allow us to further build bridges between parliamentarians some of the best scientists in the UK.”

The Royal Society’s pairing scheme, which started in 2001, aims to build bridges between parliamentarians, civil servants and some of the best scientists in the UK.  

Justin Madders MP will get hands on experience of astrophysics when he dons a lab coat to visit Dr Andreea Font at Liverpool John Moores University next year.

Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society said:  

“Expert input can help decision-makers to respond to unpredictable, global challenges like pandemics as well as the more everyday problems like how to provide affordable care for an ageing population. By working closely with the research community on their doorstep, UK decision-makers can draw  on the best innovative thinking around the world to inform their policymaking. The Royal Society pairing scheme, now in its 16th year, gives parliamentarians, civil servants and scientists the chance to build long-term relationships to ensure that excellent research and innovation taking place in the UK is used to improve people's lives.”

Further information about the Royal Society pairing scheme, as well as case studies, can be found here


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