From backbench to lab bench

Linda Gilroy MP will be swapping legislation for a lab coat, when she visits the University of Plymouth on Wednesday 15 April as she joins psychology academic, Jeremy Goslin as part of a unique 'pairing' scheme run by the Royal Society - the UK national academy of science.

During her visit, Linda Gilroy MP will get a hands-on insight into the research being conducted at the University. She will start her day by taking part in a staff forum to discuss the future of research at the University and its integration within the local and wider community, before moving on to the School of Psychology where she will observe demonstrations by world-class researchers investigating social, visual and developmental aspects of the discipline. Finally Linda will explore why language abilities improve with age, but other functions such as memory decline, as she takes part in an electrophysiological brain imaging experiment, preparing and recording actual brain waves from a research volunteer.

Ahead of her visit, Linda Gilroy said; "I am excited for this opportunity to have an inside look at the research being done at the University of Plymouth. It's an excellent opportunity and together with Goslin's visit to Parliament last year, this programme helps make connections between scientists and Members of Parliament that will help with science policy. Goslin's area of research is one which compliments one of my key areas of interest in policy affecting older people."

Jeremy Goslin has already spent a week in the Houses of Parliament as part of the pairing scheme's 'Westminster Week'. This provided Goslin with a 'behind the scenes' insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of an MP; "It revealed the level of demand for a politician's time, with many worthy causes lobbying for attention - in this environment it can be understood why scientific understanding can be lost or misheard. However it has shown me the methods and organisations that are key to helping scientists speak with greater clarity and volume, to correctly inform parliament of current scientific opinion. This should hopefully ensure that the science conducted with public money will be of greater benefit to society."

The Royal Society's MP-Scientist pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. It is an opportunity for MPs to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy. Over 150 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part in the scheme since it was launched in 2001.


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