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From City to the backbench

City, University of London researchers visit politicians in Westminster


Academics from City, University of London swapped their research for legislation when they visited the House of Commons for a week in Westminster earlier this month.

The week, which ran between the 4th and 7th December, is part of a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society – the UK’s national academy of science, with support from the Government Science & Engineering (GSE) profession, and involved Dr Andreas Kappes from the Department of Psychology and Dr Kyriaki Giorgakoudi from the School of Health Sciences.

During his visit Dr Andreas Kappes shadowed Wendy Middleton, Senior Private Secretary to the BEIS Chief Scientific Advisor Professor John Loughhead, and learnt about her work. Dr Kyriaki Giorgakoudi also met Helen Roberts, Head of International Disease Monitoring and Risk Assessment at APHA, Defra. As well as attending seminars and panel discussions about how evidence is used in policy making, Dr Kappes and Dr Giorgakoudi also attended a mock Select Committee.

The visit provided Dr Kappes and Dr Giorgakoudi with a behind the scenes insight into how policy is formed and how their research can respectively be used to make evidence-based decisions and also how mathematical models can be of benefit to policy. It also gave Wendy Middleton and Helen Roberts the opportunity to investigate the science behind their decisions and improve their access to scientific evidence.

Dr Andreas Kappes said: “In my research, I look how people learn and make decisions under risk and uncertainty, especially social decisions that have consequences for other people. Obviously, an improved understanding (and management) of risk and uncertainty has wide-reaching policy ramifications. By spending the week at Westminster I got to better understand how the policymaking process works, from fundamental research, through to engaging with parliamentarians and civil servants.”

Dr Kyriaki Giorgakoudi said: My expertise lies in mathematical biology and economic evaluation. Although I'm aware of the impact of the latter on policy, the week was helpful as it enabled me to understand better the influence of mathematical models. I applied to participate to the Royal Society Pairing Scheme with this in mind and I was very happy to be paired with Dr Helen Roberts.”

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