This year's Parliamentary Links Day was a huge success with a packed room at the House of Commons. MPs, representatives from scientific organisations and those related to parliamentary science policy convened to discuss science and public trust.
The speaker of the House, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, introduced Parliamentary Links Day with a poignant dedication to the incredible work and scientific interest of Rt Hon Tony Benn MP.
Links Day featured a variety of members from the scientific spectrum including Andrew Miller MP (chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee) and Sir Paul Nurse of the Royal Society, as well as MPs and parliamentary representatives. The event hosted two panels of speakers, with a lively debate in the question and answer sessions that followed.
Links Day is the largest science event on the annual parliamentary events calendar. It is organised by the Society of Biology on behalf of the science and engineering community in order to enhance their relationship with parliament and MPs. This year the speakers explored the importance of effectively engaging UK citizens with science and policy.
The two panels were made up of science journalists, academics and scientific organisations. They discussed the need for a stronger engagement with the public on scientific issues, and stressed the value of a strong connection between both parliament and the sciences in all capacities to advance in policy making.
In his key note address Sir Mark Walport, Government Chief Scientific Adviser discussed the planned development of a fast stream specifically aimed at Science and Engineering Civil servants in order to bridge the gap for the scientists of the future, as well as the importance of the social sciences in relation to policy issues. He encouraged the room to engage with policy at local and national levels to continue integrating science effectively.
Sir Paul Nurse of the Royal Society gave the closing talk which looked at the immediate need to communicate reliable and digestible knowledge about the natural world in order to maintain a general trust in both science and scientists.
The debate at the event and across Twitter addressed topics such as the lack of funding organisations for post-graduate training, increasing productivity, global collaborations, inspiring young minds and most importantly constantly and consistently engaging with the public.
Panellists and speakers included Mark Henderson (Wellcome Trust), Terry Lyons (Council for the Mathematical Sciences), Fiona Fox (director, Science Media Centre), Chris Tyler (director, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) and Stephen Metcalfe MP (Science and Technology Select Committee), Pallab Ghosh (BBC Science Correspondent), Sarah Main (director, Campaign for Science and Engineering), Martin Pickersgill (Royal Society of Edinburgh), Nicola Gulley (editorial director, IOP Publishing, James Wilsdon (Science Policy Research Unit) and Julian Huppert MP.
The day was a huge success, with #LinksDay2014 trending on Twitter, and the Society would like to thank everyone who contributed to the event.