The Science Policy Workshop for Microbiologists

Posted on February 13, 2020   by Joanne Kite

Last year Joanne Kite, PhD student at the University of Surrey, attended the Science Policy Workshop jointly run by the Microbiology Society and the Society for Applied Microbiology. The workshop discussed how scientists can influence government policies and how to communicate with policymakers. Here, Joanne discusses her experience of the event.

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On Monday 25 November I attended the Science Policy Workshop for microbiologists in London. It started off with a session on how science can influence parliament and government, with great talks from a variety of people. There were speakers from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), the Wellcome Trust and Sense about Science. These talks gave a varied introduction on topics such as the difference between parliament and government, what science policy is and ways of getting involved. This was great for a complete newcomer to science policy, such as myself.

In the afternoon there was a breakout activity where we had the opportunity to be either policymakers or scientists, then present our ideas to everyone else. This activity was awesome fun and a great way to learn about how decisions are made and how best to influence policy makers.

This workshop was organised jointly by the Microbiology Society and the Society for Applied Microbiology. Due to this, attendees were very varied – providing great opportunities for meeting new scientists and networking. It was also great that the event was based at an ethical venue, as conferences and meetings can be very wasteful, so it was great to see these societies hosting events that are more sustainable.

Before attending the workshop, I was unaware of the amount (and variety) of influence that scientists have on science policy in the UK. The talks were all very informative and I learnt a lot about how science policy is delivered and how scientists can guide this.

A valuable piece of information that I took from the workshop was about how important it is to communicate science in a clear, concise and relevant manner – and to avoid jargon especially! All the speakers highlighted ways of getting involved and I came away full of ideas. This workshop was a great learning opportunity for scientists, at any career stage, working in microbiology.

Find out more about the Microbiology Society’s policy work.