Parliamentarians and scientists swap places in 2022 Royal Society Pairing Scheme

14 March 2022

This week (14 March – 17 March) 30 UK scientists will swap pipettes for policy as they shadow parliamentarians and civil servants during a Week in Westminster, as part of the Royal Society’s unique annual Pairing Scheme.

Now in its 22nd year, the scheme brings together scientists and policymakers so that they can learn about each other’s worlds and explore how research can inform policy making.

Participants this year include Greg Clark MP, Chair of the Commons Science and Technology Committee, Seema Malhotra MP, Shadow BEIS Minister, and Munira Wilson MP, Lib Dem Education Spokesperson.

Scientists taking part are drawn from universities across the UK and industry, including Imperial College London Centre for Environmental Policy, Plymouth Marine Laboratory and University of Glasgow James Watt School of Engineering

During the week the scientists will get a behind the scenes insight into how policy is formed and how they can share their expertise with policy makers. They will tour parliament, grill MPs in a mock select committee session, and participate in a Q&A with Robert Bradburne (Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor, DEFRA) and Chris Pook (Deputy Director GO-Science for Science Systems and Capability).

The Royal Society’s Pairing Scheme, which started in 2001, aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and research scientists in the UK. 

The scheme will continue later in the year with a visit to the scientist partner’s laboratories and home institutions to offer parliamentarians and civil servants a closer insight into the research process and how this can inform their work.

Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: “I am delighted that we are now able to resume the Royal Society Pairing Scheme, face to face. 

“The collaboration between scientists and policymakers is essential if we are to tackle the pressing issues of our time, from climate change to the emergence of new infectious diseases. 

“By bringing these groups together and providing them with a glimpse into each-other’s worlds, we can build relationships and skills, and hopefully aid important decision making.”