Young scientists ask the questions in parliamentary event

10 March 2015

Young scientists nominated by the Institute of Physics (IOP) were among a group who had the chance to quiz politicians on science policy at an event in parliament on 4 March.

Science and technology committee

MPs on the Science and Technology Committee, who are used to asking questions of witnesses, agreed instead to be questioned by the young researchers and students, who were all aged between 16 and 35. Universities, science and cities minister Greg Clark, shadow minister for universities, science and skills, Liam Byrne, and the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport, also took part.

A question put to Byrne by an IOP nominee queried what the best way was to inform politicians about current issues in science. Byrne said that it was important to build a relationship with your local MP, to be involved in forums where the issues were discussed, and to be part of a wider network that was putting forward arguments on science policy.

In his replies to questions, Clark said that the principles guiding the government’s new 10-year science and innovation strategy were the need to sustain excellence in science, to be agile in responding to new discoveries, to avoid operating in silos and instead to collaborate, to recognise the importance of clustering in siting new institutions, and to involve the public more in science.

The event, Voice of the Future 2015, was organised by the Society of Biology with support from the IOP and several other learned societies and organisations. A full report of the meeting can be viewed on the society’s website and a recording of the whole event can be viewed on Parliament TV.