From lab bench to back bench – TSL scientist visits the seat of power

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The Sainsbury Laboratory researcher Dr Marina Pais is spending a week in Westminster in a scheme to bring together the worlds of policymakers and scientists.

Dr Pais is one of 30 research scientists paired with UK parliamentarians and civil servants in the scheme organised by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science.

Dr Pais, who researches UK potato varieties, is being paired with North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb who as part of the scheme will visit The Sainsbury Laboratory in January to learn more about life at a leading research institution.

“I am really looking forward to spending a week in Westminster. Building bridges between science and policy-making is essential to ensure that scientific discoveries reach society and have a positive impact on people's lives,” said Dr Pais.

Dr Marina Pais

“The Pairing Scheme is a great opportunity for scientists to engage with policy-makers and to think about science from a different perspective. I would like to thank the Royal Society and Norman Lamb for allowing me to be part of this year's scheme.”

Activities will include a tour of the Palace of Westminster, seminars, panels discussions and a mock select committee.

The Royal Society Paring Scheme aims to help scientists to learn about the policy making process, to find out how research can inform policy decisions and to build lasting relationships with parliamentarians and civil servants.

For parliamentarians the annual scheme offers a chance to see the science behind issues raised by constituents, meet students and researchers and discover how scientific research underpins the UK’s innovative industries.

The pairing scheme is in its 17th year. Since it started in 2001, 400 scientists, 169 MPs and 125 civil servants have taken part.