UK Research and Innovation: Visions for 2030

The national Academies are hosting a series of four Policy Lab events considering the landscape for UK research and innovation after the 2015 Spending Review. This event will look ahead to 2030 to consider what UK research and innovation could achieve in the future, and what it would take to get there. The outcomes of the 2015 […]

An Audience with Sir Mark Walport

Sir Mark Walport is the current Government Chief Scientific Adviser and is responsible for providing scientific advice to the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet, advising the government on aspects of policy on science and technology, and ensuring and improving the quality and use of scientific evidence and advice in government. He is the former Director […]

How (not) to give policy advice: Modelling Bluetongue

Bluetongue is a viral disease of cattle and sheep transmitted by Culicoides biting midges, which has recently emerged in Europe. This talk will describe the modelling work done at Pirbright to understand the spread and control of this disease, considering some of the pitfalls involved in using models to give policy advice when the models […]

2°C or 6°C: What’s the Plan?

This discussion at the Dana Centre in South Kensington looked at several issues including changing behaviour towards climate change, turning debates into policy and how climate change affects health …

Poor risk communication is tree-mendously worrying

I was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, and although I couldn’t wait to leave the place when I headed off to University, I have since come to love it in its own way. While Ipswich itself is a fairly bland place, my memories of the countryside around the town are pretty idyllic. I spent my 18th […]

Lords Question Breadth of PhDs

Innovation is valuable; that’s why the government places such great emphasis on it in their plan for economic growth. Usually, it’s hard to predict where the next big innovation might come from – and so traditionally, scientific research spreads its net wide, so as to maximise it chances of hitting on great discoveries. But the […]

Podcast: Scientists in Parliament

Julian Huppert MP Decisions about science that affect our lives are being made by people with little knowledge of those areas. Should we be worried? Debacles such as Tony Blair’s handling of the MMR vaccine scandal in the early Noughties show what can go wrong when science is poorly handled by politicians. Ten years on, […]

Contraception Goes Wild

The female contraceptive pill is often hailed as one of the greatest successes of modern medicine, by both women and men alike. However, contraceptives for conservation is another issue altogether. The vast array of hormonal mechanisms, methods of conceiving and durations of pregnancy that are present within mammals alone is enough to give any reproductive […]

Will Underground CCS Work?

Longannet Power Station For many years the idea of carbon capture and storage has been floating around as a solution to global warming. But is it viable? With the government’s publication of a roadmap for carbon capture and storage (CCS) earlier this month, and the inclusion of CCS in the Committee on Climate Change’s recent […]

Badger, Badger, Badger (Part 2)

In my last post we saw how, following an 8 year trial of badger culling in 2007, the Independent Scientific Group (ISG) concluded that culling could make no meaningful contribution to Bovine Tuberculosis control. This was due to the ‘pertubation effect’ where culling caused badgers to scatter and spread the infection further afield. Following a […]

Badger, Badger, Badger …

It’s a debate that’s got everyone talking; animal rights activists, farmers, scientists and politicians. Yes, it’s about the dear old badger, and Government plans to tackle the spread of tuberculosis in cows through culling. Bovine TB has become a serious problem for British livestock and currently costs the taxpayer £100m a year. It is well-known […]

A Win-Win Deal for Drugs?

In early December the coalition government launched its new Life Sciences Strategy, described by the Prime Minister as an attempt to improve patient care, foster innovation and catalyse the medical breakthroughs necessary for the industry to remain “a jewel in the crown of our economy”. While the UK’s economic crown is looking a little tarnished […]

Can we really afford another COP out?

  Since the disappointment of the 2009 COP15 summit in Copenhagen, derailed by the twin distractions of the escalating global financial crisis and the revelations of the so-called ‘climategate affair’, talks to agree legally-binding global CO2 reduction targets have somewhat lost their way. Now, with just over a year to go before the Kyoto Protocol […]

Tuition Fees

Last week, I travelled to UCL to meet Imran Khan, head of CaSE. Imran is an alumnus of the Imperial College Science Communication MSc course and was previously a researcher for former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris. As Director of CaSE, Imran deals with a whole range of issues surrounding science policy. Today, Imran […]

Designer Deafness

One of the most common questions an expectant parent is likely to be asked is ‘so…do you want a boy or a girl?’ to which the answer, whether true or not, is often ‘we don’t care as long as it has ten fingers and ten toes’. Although this answer clearly means that all they wish […]

Is Science Vital?

Last week, I travelled to UCL to meet Imran Khan, head of CaSE. Imran is an alumnus of the Imperial College Science Communication MSc course and was previously a researcher for former Liberal Democrat MP Dr Evan Harris. As Director of CaSE, Imran deals with a whole range of issues surrounding science policy. Today, Imran […]

Industry tool or public good? Science’s split personality is responsible for debate over funding

For many years it has been widely accepted that science requires state funding; justified predominantly by the idea that science is ‘public good.’ In economics this term refers to a product that costs us all as individuals (i.e. in taxes), in order to eventually provide an economic gain to us as a society. According to […]

War on drugs based on misconception

The worldwide trade of illicit drugs is big business, affecting countries across the world; from production in Latin America and the Middle East, to consumption in Europe and the United States (and everywhere in between). At home, the saga of our own, outdated, drug legislation continues. Last week the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies […]

The State of Science

On Tuesday 25th January, President of the United States Barack Obama will give his second State of the Union Address, fulfilling his constitutional duty: ‘He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.’ The […]