Leeds professor swaps lab bench for green bench

Professor Michelle Peckham (Molecular and Cellular Biology) has recently taken part in the Royal Society’s pairing scheme.

Michelle Peckham with Chris Green MP.

Michelle peckham and chris Green

The scheme pairs scientists with parliamentarians and civil servants so that they can learn about each other’s worlds and explore how research findings can inform policy making.

Professor Peckham traded places with the MP for Bolton West, Chris Green, for a 'week in Westminster'. Professor Peckham said: “This was a fantastic experience to see how parliament and government deal with science. I was lucky to be paired with Chris Green MP, a member of the scientific and technology select committee, which gave me a good insight into what this committee does. I was also able to watch George Osborne deliver the Autumn Budget statement from the Public Gallery as part of my week in Westminster."

The visit was reciprocated when Chris Green MP spent time in the Faculty of Biological Sciences. A mock scientific and technology committee took place where ‘big data’ and the ‘need for an office of scientific responsibility’ was discussed.

Chris Green MP said: “I came to the University of Leeds 20 years ago as an engineer to install some equipment, so it was really good to come back here and see the current investment in new equipment and laboratories.

“The pairing scheme is a fantastic opportunity to increase awareness about the work of Parliament and also for parliamentarians to understand more about science.”

Michelle peckam

Professor Peckham said: “It was great to have Chris come to visit Leeds as part of the pairing scheme – we showed him around the faculty and all the new developments, including the new cryo-electron microscopes, and the bio-imaging facility. As Chris used to work in Mass Spectrometry, he was also really interested in seeing our Mass Spectrometry facility. In the afternoon, he also took part in a mock scientific and technology select committee on ‘big data’ organised by Samantha Aspinall (Researcher Skills Senior Training and Development Officer), which was very interesting to watch. This is a great scheme, and really helps to understand how scientists can interact better with parliament.”

Dr Julie Maxton, Executive Director of the Royal Society, said: “Scientists and policy makers have a responsibility to engage with each other to get the best possible scientific advice into public policy making. The Royal Society’s pairing scheme, now in its 15th year, provides an opportunity for MPs and scientists to build long term relationships to make the best evidence and scientific advice increasingly accessible. The shaping of public policy can only improve over time as these relationships continue to grow.”

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