UCL News


UCL scientist goes from Lab Bench to Backbench

12 January 2012

Dr Nguyen TK Thanh (UCL Physics and Astronomy) has taken part in a scheme where MPs and Civil Servants are paired up with leading scientists for a week at both their respective places of work.

pairing scheme

Dr Thanh was paired with Caroline Jacobs, Senior Policy adviser, EU and International Innovation Policy, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Dr Thanh spent several days in the Houses of Parliament, learning how science policy is formed as well as gaining an understanding of the working life of a civil servant. She said: "The time I spent in Westminster was a golden opportunity to get some insight into how a government department works. I found out how all the issues relating to my research are being decided, governed and executed."

Ms Jacobs made the return journey last week, visiting UCL to spend time with Dr Thanh to gain a better understanding of how research funding is spent, how research is prioritised and what a typical day is like for a research scientist. Ms Jacobs explained: "My visit to UCL was a wonderful opportunity to hear first hand about key issues faced by senior academics and to learn how challenging, diverse and fulfilling their roles are."

The Royal Society's Civil Servant/MP - Scientist pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. It is an opportunity for MPs to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy. Over 180 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it was launched in 2001.

"I found out how all the issues relating to my research are being decided, governed and executed."

Dr Thanh (UCL Physics & Astronomy)

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.  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."

Image (from left): Dr Nguyen TK Thanh (UCL Physics and Astronomy), Beverley Okoye (BIS International Policy), Caroline Jacobs (BIS European and International Innovation), Dr Chris Holland (zoologist).

Related links:

Dr Nguyen TK Thanh
Royal Society Pairing Scheme
UCL Physics and Astronomy