Each year Nicola takes part in the Royal Society Pairing Scheme, in which she welcomes a scientist for a few days in Westminster and Whitehall with her, and she then spends a week with them to learn more about their world at a later date. The aim of the scheme is to bridge the gap between parliamentarians and science, enabling MPs to become better informed about science and for the scientists to understand better how policy is influenced and formed in Parliament.
The scheme has been particularly important to Nicola, who has been Chair of the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee and is now Minister for Public Health and Innovation with many life sciences issues included in her portfolio. More info on the scheme can be found here.
In her fifth year of taking part in the scheme, Nicola has been paired with Dr Daniel Burnham, a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow based at the newly-opened Francis Crick Institute. Daniel shadowed Nicola as she went about her Parliamentary and Ministerial duties during a busy couple of days. Nicola was answering a debate on behalf of the Government on variant CJD and Surgery, as well as a number of meetings with officials and stakeholders, before taking part in a choir performance to raise money for Syrian refugees and meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss opportunities for infrastructure and growth in Oxfordshire.
You can find Dr Burnham’s personal write up of his time with Nicola here: Blog: An insider’s view of Westminster.
Nicola says: I always enjoy taking part in the Royal Society Pairing Scheme, it is a truly unique opportunity for the both of us, and particularly beneficial for me with so many innovative tech start-ups and university spin-outs in my constituency as well as with my role in Parliament.
Parliament benefits a great deal from scientific and research expertise and its so important for scientists to engage in the Parliamentary process whether that be lobbying Ministers as a Bill is passing through Parliament, coming before Select Committees to give evidence or reaching out to Members to demonstrate their work- we value it and encourage it.