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Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra), Professor Ian Boyd, spoke about the differences in culture between the worlds of science and politics at the University’s Institute of Integrative Biology research and impact away-day.
Speaking at St George’s Hall to Institute staff and PhD students, he focused on how scientists communicate with the public and policy makers, saying: “Our role is to deliver evidence dispassionately to help people make decisions in their own lives.”
Sounding a note of caution to the scientists in the room he continued: “Recent surveys suggest that only one third of the public believes what scientists say, so we need to be more measured and sophisticated in our communications methods.”
Professor Boyd’s role at Defra is to ensure that research provides the kind of scientific evidence for ministers to make the best policy decisions, so that advice has to be fit for purpose.
Scientists and PhD students also presented their latest research and discussed new ways of working with colleagues.
Head of the Institute, Professor Andrew Cossins, said: “We are keen to ensure that all of our scientists, particularly those at the start of their careers, can learn from leading experts in science policy as well as science research fields.
“Professor Boyd is one of the top scientists working in government and his perspective on science-based policy development is particularly valuable to researchers in directing their scientific endeavours, but as a role model for young researchers who might seek careers in science policy.”
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