A professor from the University of Exeter had the chance to see the science behind the politics last week, when she left the lab coat behind to visit the House of Commons.
Professor of Ecotoxicology in Biosciences, Tamara Galloway, shadowed Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw as part of a pairing scheme run by the UK’s national academy of science, the Royal Society. The scheme, which began in 2001, aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and British scientists, and is supported by the Government Office for Science.
The visit provided the visiting scientists, including Professor Galloway, with a behind the scenes look into policy-making. During the week, Professor Galloway gained insight into how her research on environmental pollution can be used by MPs as evidence for new policies. Professor Galloway also attended panel discussions, a Select Committee and sat in the Commons to hear the results of the Chancellors’ Comprehensive Spending review.
Dr. Julie Maxton, Executive Director of the Royal Society, stresses the challenges the world faces “that can only be addressed with a solid understanding of the sciences”. She continued: “Scientists and policy makers have a responsibility to engage with each other. The shaping of public policy can only improve over time as these relationships continue to grow.”
The visit allowed Bradshaw to improve the science behind his own decisions. “My approach to politics is vey much evidence-based,” Bradshaw states, “and this scheme allows me to explore that further.” The MP also expressed his admiration at the “world-leading research” carried out in Exeter. This is Bradshaw’s third pairing scheme with the University, and he will be visiting Professor Galloway at Exeter next year.
Galloway describes the experience as “fantastic”. “It was such a compelling week to be witnessing how government works, with the release of the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review and ongoing world events. I felt privileged to be there to see such important events taking place.”