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University of Sussex scientist paired with Brighton MP

An evolutionary biologist at the University of Sussex has been paired with Dr Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, as part of a nationwide scheme to build bridges between parliamentarians and the UK’s best research scientists.

Dr Ted Morrow will spend this week (24-27 November) in Westminster learning how science policy is formed, as well as shadowing Dr Lucas - the UK’s only Green MP - at the House of Commons.

As well as attending seminars and panel discussions, while in Westminster Dr Morrow will also attend Prime Minister’s Question Time and a mock Science and Technology Select Committee. The visit will provide Dr Morrow with a behind-the-scenes insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of an MP.

He will also get the opportunity to spend a day with Dr Lucas at her constituency office in Brighton.

Then, in the new year, Dr Lucas will visit Dr Morrow’s lab at the University for a day to find out first-hand what it is like to be a scientist in a research-intensive university in 2014. The lab at Sussex’s campus in Falmer falls within Dr Lucas’ Brighton Pavilion constituency.

The pairing is timely; Dr Morrow’s research into mitochondrial replacement therapy could have direct implications for the ‘three-person embryo’ legislation currently being discussed in Parliament.

Dr Morrow has argued for the past year that the controversial IVF technique that would remove the chance of passing on an array of genetic diseases between mother and child poses other hidden health dangers.

Dr Morrow says: “I put myself forward for this scheme because I think it's really important that MPs see more about what goes on inside universities for a better understanding of our priorities and constraints.

“I am of course really looking forward to seeing first-hand how MPs and parliamentarians work.

“I'm particularly interested in learning more about the routes that scientists and MPs use to communicate with one another and perhaps how those links can be strengthened, but it will all be new to me so I think I will learn a lot!”

Caroline Lucas MP said: “The pairing scheme is a great opportunity for MPs and those across various professions to gain a deeper understanding of one another’s work - and about how we work, and how we can work better together. I look forward to hearing Dr Morrow’s own insights into Parliamentary processes, and to gaining a greater understanding of his field of research.”

The parliamentary pairing scheme is run by the Royal Society – the world’s oldest scientific organisation - as an easy way to provide parliamentarians with the opportunity to explore the science behind their political decisions.

More than 300 pairs of scientists, parliamentarians and civil servants have been partnered up since the scheme was launched in 2001.

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society says:

“We live in a world facing increasing challenges that can only be addressed with a clear understanding of science.

“From climate change to outbreaks of infectious diseases, GM organisms to technology and security, our policy makers have to make decisions about issues that will affect the lives of all those in the UK and, in many cases, the global community. This means policy-makers and scientists have a responsibility to engage with each other to get the best possible scientific advice into public policy making.”

 

Notes for editors

University of Sussex press office contacts: James Hakner and Jacqui Bealing. Tel (+44)1273 678888 or email press@sussex.ac.uk

Follow Ted Morrow on Twitter (@ted_morrow) or read his blog http://tedmorrow.wordpress.com/.

Further information about the Royal Society Pairing Scheme, as well as case studies, can be found at: http://royalsociety.org/training/pairing-scheme/ 

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.


By: James Hakner
Last updated: Monday, 24 November 2014

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