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NPL scientists selected to take part in The Royal Society’s pairing scheme

Every year 30 research scientists, from across all science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics disciplines, are ‘paired’ with UK Parliamentarians and civil servants to spend the week together to learn about each other’s roles.

This year, Graham Smith, Senior Research Scientist at NPL, has been paired with Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for BEIS and Transport, and Ana Denis-Bacelar, Senior Research Scientist at NPL, has been paired with Simon Cran‑McGreehin, Committee Clerk for the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

The pairing scheme, run by the Royal Society, aims to create better connections between science and policymaking through giving scientists insight into the ways in which policy is developed, and by helping policymakers to better access and interrogate the scientific evidence that supports their work.

This year’s pairing scheme is fully online, and over the week of the 8th of March participants have taken part in workshops and heard from invited speakers, and the pairs have meet regularly to experience each other’s worlds.

Graham Smith said: "I’m really honoured to have been selected to take part in The Royal Society’s ‘Week in Westminster’ pairing scheme, and to be paired with Sarah Olney who is the MP for Richmond Park and the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for BEIS and Transport.  My area of research at NPL is hydrogen energy technologies. The application of these will be an important element of the UK meeting its net-zero goals and the UK’s strategy towards these technologies is currently under development. 

I’m passionate about the deployment of these technologies and want to ensure that I’m using my expertise to effectively inform UK strategy and support decision making now and in the future. From taking part in the scheme I hope to learn how I can most effectively communicate to UK parliamentarians the need to invest in developing hydrogen technologies and help the civil service make the best use of the highly detailed and specialised knowledge I have."

Ana Denis-Bacelar said: "It was a privilege to take part in the Royal Society Pairing scheme and be paired with Simon Cran-McGreehin, Clerk of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. My research is centred around the development and implementation of methods to improve the confidence on dosimetry-based cancer treatments using radioactive drugs. These treatments face many challenges and current regulations are difficult to enforce. Therefore, I was keen to learn how scientific evidence is gathered and evaluated by Parliament and Government.

The week gave me a unique and insightful opportunity to learn about the links between science and policymaking, the different perspectives from politicians, parliamentarians and civil servants, as well as how I can get involved in the process. The time spent with Simon and Lord Patel, Chair of the Committee, gave me the opportunity to discuss my work and an excellent overview of how scientific evidence is used in the House of Lords. Overall, it was an invaluable and empowering experience, and an important take-home message was that as scientists, we should be more confident and proactive in getting our research out there."


11 Mar 2021