Nicola is now a Royal Society Pairing Scheme veteran- this will be her fourth time taking part- and this year as Chair of the Science and Technology Select Committee Nicola has been paired with Dr Matthew Levy, a Royal Society Newton Fellow, who runs a research group at the Department of Physics at the University of Oxford.
Dr Levy specialises in using the most powerful lasers in the world working towards new cancer therapies and breakthrough lase fusion energy sources.
The scheme is about bringing decision makers and the science community together, delving a little deeper into the value of the evidence behind policies, analytical skills necessary for evidence based decision making and strengthening networks between science and Westminster. Now in its fifteenth year, more and more parliamentarians are taking up the scheme.
Nicola spoke at the Royal Society’s launch event for this year’s scheme, discussing the UK’s status as a science super-power and the ability of parliament and politicians to use scientific evidence to inform policy decisions. The Science & Technology Committee is undertaking a number of inquiries and has launched a series of evidence checks. To learn more, click here to visit the Committee’s website.
During Dr Levy’s time in Westminster with Nicola he attended the launch of the Scheme where Nicola gave a speech along with the Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP. He went along to a evidence session of the Science and Technology Select Committee, with Nicola in the Chair, as they took evidence from public health professionals and a Government Health Minister for their inquiry into Science in Emergencies and the UK’s response to the Ebola outbreak. He also went with Nicola to meet with delegates from the Czech Science and Technology Select Committee to hear about their work, met with Life Sciences Minister George Freeman, and clerks of the Environmental Audit Committee who’s work is
Of course no visit to Parliament is complete without Prime Ministers Questions, and on this occasion PMQs was followed by the Comprehensive Spending Review- which the Science and Technology Committee had been eagerly awaiting. As Nicola sat on the green benches in the Chamber, Dr Levy watched from the public gallery.
In the New Year the pair will swap roles, as Nicola shadows Dr Levy in his work in the Department of Physics in Oxford. In previous years Nicola has been paired with particle Physicist David Wark, Immunologist Prof Kathryn Wood and with BT’s Chief Security Expert Robert Ghanea-Hercock.
Nicola says: This scheme is about bringing decision makers and the science community together, about delving a little deeper into the value of the evidence behind policies, analytical skills necessary for evidence based decision making and, of course, strengthening networks between science and Westminster.
One of the things I value the most is the long term relationship we build up with the scientists, by greater understanding their working processes and by the ablity to text them at the last minute to ask a technical question I cant find out anywhere else.
I am looking forward to meeting Dr Levy again, this time in his workplace, and learning more about his fascinating work.