Dr Gerard Briscoe from Cambridge University swapped the lab for the Commons when he joined MP Julian Huppert for a week in Westminster.
The visit was part of a unique science pairing scheme run by the Royal Society – the UK’s national academy of science.
During his visit, Dr Briscoe shadowed Julian to learn more about his work and gave him a behind-the-scenes insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of an MP.
He attended a meeting of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Prime Minister’s Question Time and met Professor Sir John Beddington, Government Chief Scientifc Advisor.
Julian will return to Cambridge University with Dr Briscoe, probably in the New Year, to learn more about his work in sustainable computing which is concerned with both the use of information technology in achieving sustainability aims and the impact of information technology on our environment.
Dr Gerard Briscoe said: “I have become increasingly interested in the communication of research in terms of policy, both generally and specifically with regards to my research into sustainability. So, it was extremely useful to gain direct experience from policy professionals who can share their understanding of how research can best interact with and inform policy.”
Julian said: “The science pairing scheme is extremely valuable in giving working scientists the opportunity to see how their work can influence policy while at the same time giving MPs the opportunity to learn more about the research being carried out in the lab to tackle some of the challenges we face today.
“Dr Briscoe is working at the forefront of information technology and how it fits into our developing world and I am looking forward to learning more about his research.”
The Royal Society’s MP-Scientist pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. Over 200 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it was launched in 2001.
Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society said: “We live in a world facing increasing challenges that can only be addressed with a clear understanding of science. From climate change to influenza outbreaks, GM food to nuclear power, our MPs have to make decisions about complex issues that will affect the lives of all those in the UK and, in many cases, more widely throughout the world. This means that MPs and scientists have a responsibility to engage with each other to get the best possible scientific advice into public policy making.”