Scientists join politicians for a week in Westminster

Researchers from Manchester Met will be getting first-hand experience of how policy is made as they shadow parliamentarians this week in Westminster.


Westminster tube station and Big Ben

Dr Marloes Peeters and Dr James Pritchett are part of a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society. The scheme pairs scientists with politicians and civil servants so that they can learn about each other’s worlds, and explore how research findings can inform policy-making.

From December 4-7 they will attend seminars and panel discussions at Westminster, and take part in a mock Select Committee.

The visit will provide Dr Peeters and Dr Pritchett with behind-the-scenes insight into how policy isformed, and how they can share their expertise with policy makers. It will offer parliamentarians and civil servants the opportunity to investigate the science behind their decisions and enhance their access to scientific evidence.

Evidence-based policy is equally important to researchers and policymakers

Dr Marloes Peeters, Lecturer in Chemical Biology at Manchester Met, is paired with civil servant and Manchester Met geography graduate Ben Rayner. Ben is a senior policy officer at DEFRA.

“Evidence-based policy is equally important to researchers and policymakers," she said.

"Researchers increasingly need to demonstrate the impact they make on areas such as policy. Policymakers also need to show that their decisions are based on rationale rather than ideology.

“This scheme is a great opportunity to gain the practical skills required to engage with decision makers, and gather an insight into how parliament works.”

Dr James Pritchett, Lecturer in Science Communication based in the School of Healthcare Science at Manchester Met, is paired with Lucy Powell MP, who is MP for Manchester Central.

Dr Pritchett said: “I am very grateful to the Royal Society and to Lucy Powell MP for the opportunity to visit Westminster, and to see how parliament & policy making work first hand.

“I want to find out how biomedical researchers like myself can best contribute to evidence based policy making. How can I make my research in organ fibrosis relevant to policy makers?”

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

After the week in Westminster, the scheme will continue as parliamentarians and civil servants don their lab coats when they visit their scientist partners in their labs next year.


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