On 20th June, Dr Robert Bradburne, Head of Science in the Sustainable Land Management and Livestock Farming team at Defra, visited the department. He gave a talk and led a discussion with graduate students about working as a scientist in government, and about the role of science in policy making.
This visit followed a twelve-week placement by PhD student Robin Thompson (from the Theoretical and Computational Epidemiology group) at Defra, working as part of the UK-China Sustainable Agriculture Innovation Network (SAIN) team. Robin spent the first six weeks of the placement writing six papers that were tabled at the recent SAIN Governing Board meeting in Beijing, covering a range of issues including future challenges to sustainable agriculture in the UK and the role of agriculture in social and economic development. The papers were used as a basis for discussion about ongoing UK-China collaboration in sustainable agriculture. Robin spent the second six weeks of the placement putting the decisions made at the Beijing meeting into practice, and learning more about the interface between science and policy by, for example, spending a day shadowing Chief Scientific Advisor at Defra, Ian Boyd.
The talk on 20th June was an excellent introduction to working at a scientist in government, and was inspirational for graduate students interested in such a career. Robin’s twelve-week placement was undertaken as part of the BBSRC Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS) scheme.
Photos by Dijana Maric.