24 February 2021

EEE academic paired with Sheffield MP to improve future research

Dr. Rob Richards, a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, has been paired with MP Paul Blomfield as part of a scheme to bring together researchers and policy makers to improve the effectiveness of research.

An view of the Houses of Parliament in London from across the River Thames

Dr. Rob Richards is part of the Semiconductor Materials and Devices research group.

What is the Parliamentary Pairing Scheme and why do you consider it to be a good thing to be involved with?  

"The Royal Society's Parliamentary Pairing Scheme (PPS) connects members of parliament with academics throughout the country. Research funders and academics in general are becoming more conscientious about conducting research in a responsible way. This doesn't just mean conducting ethical research; it also means directing research towards societal challenges and conducting research in a more transparent way that is accessible to the public and policy makers. I see the PPS as a great way to build towards this aspiration. As an academic, I'm sometimes guilty of getting lost in my research and the PPS is an opportunity for me to reflect on my research in a greater political context."

What will it involve/who are you paired with?  What do you hope to get out of it? What are you most looking forward to and why?

"I have been paired with Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield.  The PPS involves a week-long secondment at Westminster. Obviously that's not an option at the moment, but there will be a virtual tour instead! Throughout the week I will join other academics and meet with members of parliament and civil servants to learn about the nuts and bolts of the government, as well as contributing to discussions on the use of science-led policy in the pandemic response and how science can contribute to the "Levelling Up" of the economy. I'm particularly looking forward to the Treasury and Prime Minister's Question sessions, with commentary from parliamentary staffers."

How will this help you in your future work?

"It is key for academics to push the boundaries of human knowledge, but it is equally important to focus this endeavor where it will benefit the UK and the world. With the insight gained from the PPS, I will be better placed to direct my research to make a real difference in society. It's also key that academics develop clear communication with policy makers and the general public in order to enable informed decisions at governmental level and to promote trust in the scientific community; seeing the contribution of scientific research in the UK from a different perspective is a great step in this direction."

For more information on the research our academics are involved in please visit our research pages.

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