UCL Public Policy


UCL academics embedded in government offices as UKRI Policy Fellowships

19 October 2023

Six UCL researchers have been awarded a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Policy Fellowship, enabling them to work within government departments and What Works Centres across the UK to address key national and global challenges.


Dr Chloe Park (UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science), Dr Jack Blumenau (UCL Political Science), Dr Lucy Irvine (UCL Institute for Global Health), Dr Neave O'Clery (UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), Dr Keri Wong and Dr Laura Outhwaite (both of the IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education & Society) are six out of a total of 44 fellows chosen to work with the government to boost the impact of scientific research on public policy. 

After its pilot programme in 2021, the UKRI Policy Fellowship scheme aims to put some of the UK’s brightest researchers at the heart of government to increase individual departments’ science and research capabilities. Fellows will seek to enhance the relationship between academia, government and research organisations (such as What Works Centres) by improving the flow of evidence, insights and talent over a 12 or 18-month period. 

Two UCL academics have been selected to assist the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Dr Neave O'Clery, an Associate Professor in Applied Urban Science, will undertake an Economics, Data and Evaluation Fellowship, while Dr Lucy Irvine has been chosen for a Tackling Infections Epidemiology Fellowship. 

Dr Keri Wong, an Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology and co-director of UCL’s Centre for Education and Criminal Justice System, will be working in the Home Office within the Criminal Justice System Strategy Analysis Team.

Dr Laura Outhwaite, of the UCL Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities (CEPEO) in the IOE, has been selected for an Improving Outcomes Education Research Fellowship within the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). 

Dr Jack Blumenau, Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, will take up a 12-month appointment at the Evaluation Task Force in the Cabinet Office. The unit was set up after the 2020 Spending Review in order to ensure government spending decisions were backed up by robust evidence. 

And Dr Chloe Park, a researcher and Science Communications and Engagement Manager at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL, will join the Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor’s team within the Department of Health and Social Care.  

Six key priorities have been identified for the fellowships: building a green future, securing better health, ageing and wellbeing, tackling infections, building a secure and resilient world, creating opportunities, improving outcomes, and data and evaluation. The 2023 scheme is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. 

Professor Geraint Rees (UCL Vice-Provost, Research, Innovation and Global Engagement) said: “I am delighted that six UCL researchers have been selected for UKRI’s Fellowship programme. By feeding into a diverse range of government departments, the six Fellowships are a recognition of our research expertise and our commitment to policy engagement and impact. 

“I am looking forward to seeing how the Fellowships develop and to see how UCL's world-leading multi-disciplinary research informs policy-making for real-world challenges.”



  • Top row: Dr Keri Wong, Dr Lucy Irvine, Dr Chloe Park
  • Bottom row: Dr Laura Outhwaite, Dr Jack Blumenau, Dr Neave O’Clery

Media contact 

Tom Cramp

E: t.cramp@ucl.ac.uk