Applications open for the 2024 Royal Society Pairing Scheme

11 October 2023

Applications for the Royal Society Pairing Scheme have opened today, 12 October. 

The Pairing Scheme pairs 30 scientists with UK parliamentarians or civil servants, giving them a unique insight into each other’s work.    

Scientists and policymakers will spend time together in Westminster and attend a programme of talks, tours, and workshops. Scientists will take part in a Mock Select Committee, and policymakers will be invited to visit the scientist’s institution to learn about their research. 

The scheme allows scientists to see how their research informs policy decisions and gives policymakers a chance to learn more about how science can help to solve important issues, from climate change to infectious diseases. 

Previous participants include: Greg Clark (Chair of the Science and Technology Committee), Thangam Debbonaire (Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport), Lord Fox (Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Business), Chi Onwurah (Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation), Sir Keir Starmer (leader of the Labour Party), and Ben Wallace (former Defence Secretary). 

Bim Afolami, Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden was paired with Dr Britta Stordal in the 2023 Pairing Scheme. He said: “It was a real pleasure to spend time with a real scientist who actually understands issues regarding cancer and obesity from a rational and rigorous perspective. It makes a change from a lot of political debate! I look forward to spending time with Britta later in the year when I get to spend time in her world for a couple of days, where I hope to learn a lot.” 

Dr Benjamin Cerfontaine, Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Southampton, who participated in the 2023 Pairing Scheme, shared: “I now have a better overview of the multiple branches of the UK government and parliament, how they work and how they gather scientific evidence. All the activities are also a formidable opportunity to meet a diverse group of other scientists and civil servants and build a cohort. We are still chatting on WhatsApp from time to time.” 

The Pairing Scheme will take place 17-21 March 2024. Applications close on 7 November 2023.