In The Thick of It — researcher gets taste of Westminster life

Dr Sarah Mackintosh
01 Nov 2010 16:14:44.247
PA 296/10

A researcher at The University of Nottingham is to gain a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into central government as part of a unique Parliamentary pairing scheme organised by the UK’s Government Office for Science and The Royal Society.

Dr Sarah Mackintosh will spend four days in Westminster learning more about how science policy is formed as well as understanding the working lives of MPs and civil servants as part of the MP-Scientist pairing scheme.

Dr Mackintosh, an expert on carbon capture and storage technology, will spend two days at the Houses of Parliament, followed by a further two days shadowing civil servants in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
Click here for full story
The scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the UK’s leading scientists. It’s an opportunity for MPs and civil servants to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can more successfully influence science policy.

Dr Mackintosh said: “A lot of the science we do doesn’t always create the impact we would like. This scheme provides a fantastic opportunity for MPs and civil servants to get an accurate and more in-depth look into the way in which we approach our research.

“For me personally, this scheme is all about learning more about how science is perceived, particularly by politicians and policymakers in Westminster, and how I can maximise the impact of my research.”

Dr Mackintosh has been paired with civil servant Alasdair Grainger, a senior policy advisor working for DECC. Alasdair visited Nottingham in August to learn more about the research that Dr Mackintosh and colleagues are conducting as part of the National Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage, a new collaboration between The University of Nottingham and the British Geological Survey.

The independent research centre brings together world-leading experts in the science of combating greenhouse gases to lead Britain’s efforts in the fight against climate change.

Carbon capture and storage aims to make power plants burning fossil fuels more environmentally-friendly by slowing the rise in the 34.5bn metric tonnes of CO2 predicted to be emitted by 2015. The procedure involves separating and capturing the CO2 from other gases in an exhaust stream, transporting it to a suitable site and storing it potentially for millions of years.

The new National Centre for Carbon Capture and Storage (NCCCS) will address an acknowledged need for cross disciplinary research by bringing together a critical mass of expertise which will be roughly double the size of any comparable institution in Britain.

Dr Sarah Mackintosh and Alasdair Grainger are among more than 180 pairs of scientists and parliamentarians to have taken part in the Royal Society scheme since it was launched in 2001.

During her time in London from Monday November 1 to Thursday November 4, Dr Mackintosh will tour the Houses of Parliament and hear presentations by high profile speakers on science in government, including John Beddington, the Government’s Chief Scientific Officer and POST, the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology. She and fellow scientists on the programme will also attend a lecture on A Problem Shared - Securing a Future for Our planet, which will feature Margaret Atwood in conversation with Sir Brian Hopkins CBE FRS, and a visit to the Royal Society.

The University of Nottingham has broad research portfolio but has also identified and badged 13 research priority groups, in which a concentration of expertise, collaboration and resources create significant critical mass. Key research areas at Nottingham include energy, drug discovery, global food security, biomedical imaging, advanced manufacturing, integrating global society, operations in a digital world, and science, technology & society.

Through these groups, Nottingham researchers will continue to make a major impact on global challenges.

— Ends — 

The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as “the nearest Britain has to a truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Sarah Mackintosh on +44 (0)7899 750026,

Emma Thorne Emma Thorne - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5793 Location: University Park

Additional resources

No additional resources for this article

Related articles

Academic's 'Geog Blog' to tell of his week in Westminster

Published Date
Tuesday 1st November 2011

Keeping the "Engine-Room of the World" Clean

Published Date
Friday 8th October 2010

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
YANG Fujia Building
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798