22 Mar 2017
Angelica Orsi (PhD student, University of St Andrews)
Being part of the SCI representative and contributing to the voice of accomplished scientific societies at the Voice of the Future 2017, was a unique and memorable experience. It was encouraging to see MPs and government officials answer and discuss the burning questions that affect the scientific community, as well as secondary schools.
Recurring themes were the gender bias in STEM subjects and how to get children interested in science from a young age. Chi Onwurah (Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, Science and Innovation) praised equality initiatives, like the Athena SWAN Charter and encouraged all young scientist attendees to spend time in schools to inspire the younger generation. Sir Mark Walport (Government Chief Scientific Advisor), the star speaker of the day in my opinion, was engaging, charismatic, and showed the breadth of his knowledge from driverless cars to space science.
Jo Johnson (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation) addressed the issues of university funding post-Brexit and the effect it will have on collaborations between research institutes in the UK and the rest of Europe. The stance taken was that the government values the collaborative work and structures between institutes at home and abroad, which are hoped to continue. Furthermore, the government is pledging an additional £4.7 billion by 2020-2021 for research and development, as announced in the autumn statement.
Overall, it was a fascinating day to see young-career scientists to question, query and be energetically involved in British politics. I would like to thank the Royal Society of Biology for organising the event and the SCI for inviting me to attend.