The Case Diary includes the latest information on our activites. The Diary archive, available via the links on the left, includes diary entries as well as all the information from our What's New section.
|29/01/04 Interaction with the House Lords
SBS was today very pleased to interact with members of the House of Lords at a dinner hosted by the distinguished parasitologist Lord Soulsby of Saffham Prior. The dinner was addressed by SBS Advisory Council member Prof Hugh Pennington, in his capacity as President of the Society for General Microbiology, which organised the event.
"This was an extremely useful chance for SBS to speak to other scientists and to chat informally to some working peers, whose work often involves considering issues of science policy," said Dr Peter Cotgreave, Director of SBS.
28/01/04 Science and the media
As part of its efforts to keep in touch with all sections of the scientific community, SBS was today represented at the Royal Society/Daily Telegraph Science meets the Media reception, addressed by Sir David Attenborough and the President of the Royal Society, Lord May. "The great thing about this event," said Dr Peter Cotgreave, Director of SBS, "is that it disproves the popular theory that many scientists don't know how to talk to the press, or that members of the media somehow don't like engaging with scientists. Researchers, teachers, reporters and broadcasters were all chatting away about the latest developments in science, and we had a great time catching up with them all."
26/01/04 Chancellor's speech
SBS today warmly welcomed the speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which he made it clear that science is at the front of the queue for extra investment in the up-coming spending review. "It's almost as if SBS has written parts of the speech," said Dr Peter Cotgreave, Director of SBS, "It was music to my ears."
Gordon Brown said that in the spending review due to be published this summer, he would "make investment in science and skills a central priority because they are the investments where government can make a difference and are most vital to our future".
"That's just what we've been saying for years," said Peter Cotgreave.
26/01/04 Phamaceutical industry
As part of its programme of ensuring that it is in touch with the wider scientific world, SBS today met with Philip Wright of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical industry. "SBS knows that in campaigning for science, we are campaigning for the economic well-being of the country," said Dr Peter Cotgreave, Director of SBS. "So we need to have a constant dialogue with various industrial sectors. Earlier in the year, we had a major meeting with representatives of the electronics industry, and we have also met with a group of company Chief Executives."
"One thing that appears to be true of the pharmaceutical industry is that recent increases in funding for the science base have confirmed the companies' enthusiasm for investing in the UK economy. In the mid 1990s, UK pharmaceutical investment in research levelled off, but since the Government started boosting the public science base, investment has risen from 21% of profits to 24%; that's over £800 million a year more invested in the British economy."
21/01/04 School practical classes
SBS today published a survey of science teachers throughout England, showing that three out of four schools are cancelling practical classes, mainly because of behavioural problems of pupils, a lack of equipment and large class sizes.
"We asked the Heads of Science in schools across England about their experiences, and we were surprised that so many schools were having problems,” said Rosemary Davies of SBS, who carried out the survey. “We knew from a focus group with a small number of teachers that some schools had these problems, but we had no idea they were so widespread”.
14/01/04 Blue skies research
SBS today expressed concern at attempts in Government attempts to increase the level of central planning in the science base. In an article in Research Fortnight, SBS points out that documents published by the Research Councils seek to define the questions that scientists will be allowed to answer over the next few years. Criticising the documents called Synthesis of Strategies and Vision for Research, SBS suggests that it is utterly inappropriate for the Research Councils to say that researchers will answer questions like "What does it mean to be a citizen of the expanding European Union?"
"That's a question for the Foreign Office, not the Office of Science & Technology. Research Councils are supposed to seek out te best scientific ideas and fund them, not pander to the preoccupations of the political establishment," said Dr Peter Cotgreave, Director of SBS.
07/01/04 Minister for higher Education
A delegation from Save British Science today enjoyed a useful and friendly meeting with the Minister for Higher Education, Alan Johnson MP. "There's so much going on at the moment, with the Government's bill due to be published on Thursday, that we were very encouraged that Mr Johnson found the time to see us this week," said Dr Peter Cotgreave, Director of SBS.
Professor Richard Joyner, Chairman of SBS, said "we were able to pass on directly to the minister our concerns about the closure of science departments in universities, the problems with existing funding mechanisms, and the need to encourage more youngsters to study science at university."
02/01/04 Celebrating science
Save British Science today asked why the UK does not celebrate its outstanding scientific achievements as much as those in other fields of endeavour. In an article in the Times Higher Education Supplement, SBS urged the country to celebrate its scientific record. "The win in the rugby world cup had us dancing in the streets, but when three Britons won Nobel Prizes within three days of one another, there was just half a day's interest," said Dr Peter Cotgreave, Director of SBS, "and the big news story was how an American who didn't win took out huge adverts claiming that he should have done."
"Some people say that "Save British Science" sounds negative, but to me, it could not be more positive. It presupposes that there is something worth saving, and there truly is. British science has not only a great track record, but also and outstanding present and a potentially exciting future. We should celebrate it a bit more."