Tag Archives: Guest Article

A message from the front-line of R&D

2,079 members responded to the union’s survey in June: A highly qualified and age diverse group, including 27% women.  Just over a third of responses came from the civil service, with a similar number from the private sector and the remainder from members in a range of other organisations including charities, research institutes, public-private partnerships and universities. Read More »

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It’s the Treasury’s season, but its dominance may not last forever

Perhaps Lord Bob Kerslake’s critical examination of the Treasury will lead to that department losing its power and preponderance – and making spending reviews like the exercise being conducted this autumn things of the past. Read More »

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Continuing to champion UK universities

London is the most popular city in the world for international students. We currently play host to 40,000 from continental Europe and 67,000 from the rest of the world. They enrich the city and country by sharing their cultures and becoming friends of Britain in ways that boost our diplomatic and trade links in future years. Read More »

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If science fights alone, it might be a losing battle

You have to talk in fiscal terms about the economic growth that science brings, and there’s plenty of evidence to back that up. It’s to make the case for investing in science, rather than in listening to the public, or thinking creatively and emotionally about what science can give us. It’s about marketing the product, rather than understanding how it was created. Read More »

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Innovation – the power of three

Seen from the ground, growth in sales and profits, rewarding careers opportunities, exploitation and dissemination of new technologies are just some of the obvious consequence of companies’ innovation efforts. And in their own words, manufacturers who participated in some recent EEF research told us why innovation matters to them…

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Science for Science’s sake

The upcoming spending review has meant that we have all had to re-examine our assumptions on this score. Ordinarily, I am a strong believer in science for science’s sake but, in really debating whether the science budget should be protected, it has become clear that there are many other reasons for doing so.

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Tackling misconceptions of British science policy

Everyone agrees that the UK should both invest more in research and in inspiring the scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians of the future – otherwise it risks a skills shortage that will undermine our ability to compete.

But the sad reality is that the whole of Government-sponsored science is less than the sum of its parts. Read More »

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BP’s Ultimate STEM Challenge to inspire the scientists and engineers of the future

For the second consecutive year, BP has announced the launch of its competition – the Ultimate STEM Challenge – in partnership with STEMNET and the Science Museum. The competition is open to young people aged between 11 to 14 and will challenge them to put their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills to the test by tackling some real-world challenges. Read More »

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Transformations: delving into an alternative side of science

From 18:00 on Tuesday 8 September, Bradford’s independent quarter will transform as part of this year’s British Science Festival. ‘Transformations: North Parade after dark’ promises an evening fusing science, art, music and everything in between.

The evening’s theme of transformations is fitting on many different levels. The North Parade area has undergone a recent revival and a host of new independent venues have opened with the desire to offer something different.

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Assessing the UK’s soil policy

In this International Year of Soils, there is growing recognition of the problems affecting our soils and the need to address those problems for our collective future. Certainly there is widespread concern amongst the soil science community and, I think, growing recognition of the problems amongst the farming community. But we do not yet have widespread public awareness of the value of soils or effective support amongst policy makers. We are publishing our Living Soil: a call to action report, which we hope will help to change that.

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Focus on Light

The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated 2015 as the International Year of Light (IYL2015), creating a great opportunity to mark some historic milestones and celebrate scientific heroes, from Ibn al-Haytham’s early work on optics in 1015 to Charles Kao’s demonstration in 1965 of the transmission of light in optical fibres. Other anniversaries include the publication of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism in 1865 and Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1915.

Even more importantly, the Year of Light has set some seriously aspirational goals, which we in the UK are playing our part to pursue.

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How many learned societies does it take to tackle antimicrobial resistance?

In our blog post of February 2014 a colleague and I argued that Learned Societies, acting as ‘boundary organisations’, are in a unique position to bring together diverse groups of researchers around a single issue. In doing so, we can facilitate action.

Since then, that’s exactly what we, and our policy colleagues, have been doing; a collaboration of seven learned societies has recently completed a series of multidisciplinary networking workshops aimed at scientists at all career stages from academia, industry and the public sector. The issue: antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

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Celebrating National Women in Engineering Day

The British automotive industry is booming. Bouncing back from a low point in the early 2000s, Britain is now the base for more manufacturers than any other European country: mass-market manufacturers, premium car-makers, bus builders and dozens of smaller producers, as well as eight of the 11 Formula One teams.  The UK is one of the world centres of motoring research and development, and attracts billions of pounds in foreign investment every year.

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Addressing the challenges facing physics

I shall be taking up office as president of the Institute of Physics shortly after the organisation’s introduction of a new strategy – a realignment of our aims and our work to better reflect the modern world. So one of the main concerns during my time at the helm will be helping to drive that strategy through.

In particular, a personal priority will be to improve the take-up of physics among women, who historically are drastically under-represented in the UK – only a fifth of physics A-level students, for example, are girls. The IOP already does a lot of excellent work aimed at remedying this, and I’ll be looking at how we can boost those efforts further. Read More »

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Why champion science and engineering? asks Andrew Miller

If you are a new Member of Parliament you will already have discovered that life in the House is not quite what you imagined. You will be trying to cope with a mountain of casework whilst not having had the time to appoint staff, sorting out domestic and office accommodation on an inadequate budget, meeting all the commitments made during the election and not least, trying to find out how the arcane rules of the House actually work! These are just a few of the challenges you are facing so what am I doing trying to get you to do something else? Read More »

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The next crop of MPs must be more statistically literate than the last

In 2012, MPs elected for the current parliamentary term were asked a simple question about the probability of flipping a coin and getting two heads in a row. The correct answer, as I’m sure you know, is 25%.

Not everybody needs to be a maths whiz, and not everybody has an interest in statistics and probabilities. But when it comes to the women and men elected to run the country, who make decisions on billion pound budgets and hold government to account, it is surely reasonable to expect they have a basic grasp of the numbers. Read More »

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Prevent, transform, cure – putting people with arthritis at the heart of the election

There are around ten million people living in the UK with a musculoskeletal condition, of which there are many variations, ranging from the most common, osteoarthritis, to less prevalent conditions such as lupus.

What unites all of these conditions is the pain that they can cause and the impact that they can have on the people that have them, making it harder for them to do the things that so many of us take for granted- going to work, meeting friends, spending time with family. Read More »

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Evidence Matters

Using reliable evidence honestly and effectively is crucial to making policy in the public interest – while its misuse means that opportunities for improving social outcomes are missed.

With the general election less than three months away, politicians and the media will bombard us with claim and counter-claim about the best ways to reduce crime, educate our children and care for the vulnerable – but how can the electorate know what to believe? Ask for Evidence is a new tool developed by Sense About Science for the public to hold politicians, commentators and others to account for how they use evidence – helping to sort policy claims that are backed by evidence from those that aren’t. Read More »

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Building a Stronger Future – National Academies

This Spring will see UK citizens go to the polls and exercise their right to choose who governs the country. The last election saw the formation of the first coalition government since the Second World War, and we do not yet know what 2015 will bring. These are uncertain times. Read More »

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Returners to Bioscience

The UK is facing a skills shortage. Everyone is saying it – from David Cameron to Paul Nurse – but what can we do about it? One potential source of talent lies within the so-called ‘returners’ community; those who have taken extended career breaks but often face difficulties in trying to return to work. Read More »

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