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Science Questions at Westminster:Our report from Voice of the Future 2016

Science Questions at Westminster:Our report from Voice of the Future 2016

Five YAS members [Stella Chan, Duncan Forgan, Patrick Harkness, Neil McLennan, and Subramanian Ramamoorthy] Tuesday joined young scientists from significant UK Science organisations to question MPs about the science issues that matter to us.

At the annual Voice of the Future event, young scientists take committee seats in Westminster Room, while MPs from the Select Committee on Science and Technology take the witness seats.  This reversal of the normal select committee format aims to engage young scientists in the political process, as well as emphasising the importance of evidence-based decision making in government.

Those present engaged with The Speaker of the House, John Bercow MP; Government Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Mark Walport; the Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP; Shadow Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills, Yvonne Fovargue MP as well as members of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.  Participants were also addressed by Major Tim Peake on the International Space Station; we were delighted that he took the time to answer questions posed to him by participants from Space.

The overarching theme of Voice of the Future is to reflect on the advantages and challenges in building positive relationship between science and policy.  This year, a range of topics were discussed including the following: gender balance in the scientific and political communities; science and policy making; the impact of the EU debate on science and technologies; science education and the recruitment and retention of science and maths teachers; antimicrobials; open data; obesity; GM foods; genetics; global warming; fracking and energy; ethical issues; funding; international collaborations; and the Teaching Excellence Framework.

A video of Voice of the Future 2016 may be found on the Science & Technology Select Committee webpage.  Live updates and photos of the event were also posted on Twitter via the hashtag #VOF2016

Pictured above are Neil McLennan, Patrick Harkness, Subramanian Ramamoorthy and Duncan Forgan inside the Boothroyd Committee Room. (Photo courtesy of the Royal Society of Biology)

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I am the Director of the Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications. My work focuses on the development and application of space mission systems and space technology, challenging conventional ideas to enable new concepts in the exploration and exploitation of space, and is reported in over 100 publications funded from a diverse funding portfolio ranging from the research councils to space agencies and industrial collaborators.

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