UCL Public Policy


Undertaking a policy placement Dr Ilias Krystallis

Illias worked as a policy advisor for the Grand Challenges team.


22 June 2019

Like most scientists, I am driven by curiosity. I wanted to find new ways of adding value to my research — and accelerating its impact — by putting my research into practice. One way of doing this was by embedding myself in a policy team through a secondment.

From March to September 2019, I worked as a policy advisor for the Grand Challenges team, part of the UK’s Industrial Strategy flagship policy programme at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

A scientist secondee has two main goals for their secondment: to better understand the policy environment in practice and to identify pathways to achieving impact. During my secondment, I worked directly with a policymaker, and she monitored my progress for the duration of my time there. Together, we planned how many projects I should be involved in and what they would cover.

Undertaking a secondment can be a useful opportunity for academics to examine their own field from a different angle — and can also act as a chance to explore where their career might take them next. They can help you to become an active contributor in an area of interest, enable you to gain access to an important network of policymakers, and allow you to develop close connections within the policy world. Although I’m now back in my academic position at UCL, I’m currently collaborating on another exciting project with the policy team I got to know during my time at BEIS - and am looking forward to exploring the fascinating field of policymaking in greater depth in future.

Being seconded to BEIS was a great experience for me. Being curious about how policy works, it gave me a good overview of what it’s like working for the Government, and I have now a good sense of what policymakers are doing and a greater understanding of how they work.

By understanding their way of working, I can better contribute to policy work through my research, and I would definitely recommend a secondment to other scientists, no matter which stage they are at in their career.

> UCL Grand Challenges