How does science get into policy?

Figure1 The Policy Cycle

Figure1 The Policy Cycle

Daija Angeli, project officer at the Natural Capital Initiative, reflects on the British Ecological Society (BES) Policy Training Day she attended last week.

How can scientists and researchers effectively engage with policy and decision makers and how do they best communicate science to these audiences? The British Ecological Society (BES) Policy Training Day offered answers to these questions through a series of talks from insiders working at the science policy interface as well as practical exercises.

Policy is not a single outcome but an ongoing process. This is often illustrated by the concept of the policy cycle, a process that is repeating itself, with policies being revised and refined over time (Figure 1).  Read more »

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Plant scientists assemble to address future challenges at UK PlantSci 2014

DSC06911Anna Tiley, policy and communications intern at the Society of Biology, summarises events from the recent UK PlantSci 2014 conference held at the University of York. This post can also be found on the UK PlantSci blog.

One of the defining aspects of doing a BBSRC funded doctoral training partnership (DTP) PhD is the opportunity to do a 3 month placement to gain experience outside of the lab. I have recently started my placement with the Society of Biology and spent the first few days helping run the UK PlantSci 2014 conference. This was a very enjoyable experience which gave me an invaluable insight into a leading scientific organisation. Read more »

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Is it possible to make a real-life Captain America?

Is it possible to create a super hero? Jess Devonport, marketing and communications officer at the Society of Biology, looks at Captain America in the name of science.

Self-improvement is a pretty big thing these days. From glossy magazines holding up various celebrities for comparison, to pictures of scenic landscapes with motivational quotes bullying you into to trying harder, the important thing to remember is that you are not good enough.

Captain America wasn’t good enough for the US Army back in the 1940’s when he was just Steve Rogers, but luckily for him, bettering yourself is significantly easier in the Marvel universe, what with all the gamma rays, radioactive spiders and special formulas they have kicking around. Captain America’s Super Soldier Serum enhances metabolic function, increases his speed, strength, endurance, and turns him into Chris Evans, which we’re all very happy about. Read more »

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How the health service is failing Deaf people

SignHealth reportBy Jon Kudlick, director of membership, marketing and communications at the Society of Biology and trustee of SignHealth

Imagine you are in hospital about to have an operation. For most of us, that’s a stressful enough situation in itself. Now imagine that because all the GPs, consultants and nurses do not speak your language, you don’t really know what is wrong with you, what the operation entails, and how the operation will affect you afterwards. Suddenly those levels of stress are off the scale, and this is a far too common experience for many Deaf people. Read more »

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A taste of the future in Cardiff

Grasshopper by David UrryDavid Urry, regional coordinator at the Society of Biology, discusses his latest event in Cardiff,  looking at food sustainability by  exploring a ‘Menu of the Future’.  Apply to the Regional Grant Scheme if you would like funding to run your own biology event in your local area, or contact your local branch committee to see how you can become involved in regional activity.

The Society of Biology headed to  South Wales on the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd March, armed with roasted crickets, green algae, fried meal-worms and sonically enhanced toffee, to present our  ‘Menu of the Future’ to the people of Cardiff as part of National Science and Engineering Week 2014.

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A precautionary tale

Ahead of the Society of Biology’s next Policy Lates event on the precautionary principle, Tracey Brown of Sense About Science gives her view on some of the issues surrounding the principle and its application.

What would you say if I suggested farmers start using a compound that could mess with your hormones in order to improve crop yields? I’ve conducted some pretty strict testing which indicates that it is safe but I can’t be sure; I haven’t got evidence that shows it is completely safe for you to be exposed to it over many years – I may never have evidence to put any hypothetical harm beyond doubt.

But that doesn’t matter, because the answer’s no anyway, right? We’re not going to take the chance. Now, how about if I told you that this compound would replace one that is persistent in waterways and which is being sprayed with increasing frequency because its effectiveness has dropped as the fungus it kills has evolved resistance? (All that extra spraying demonstrably harming ladybirds and other beneficial insects.) And, by the way, when I say mess with your hormones, I mean in doses that you’ll never be exposed to. In fact if you want to go into the detail a bit, what I really mean is that it has been shown to interact with the endocrine system, as many things you encounter on a daily basis do – including much of your food – and there’s no evidence that this particular interaction is harmful. Read more »

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Wake up to Make up!

Guest blogger Chloe Warren investigates the fascinating history and evolution of make up, leading to the popularity of cosmetics in modern society. 

Applying make up can be part of a daily routine for many of us. What you may not be aware of is the history and science behind staples like eyeliner, mascara and lipstick.  Read more »

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Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

PhD thesisMichael Walsh, policy intern at the Society of Biology, gives a student’s perspective on the largest piece of text that a researcher will write

The British Library curates the Electronic Thesis Online Service (EThOS), which is an open access database for UK theses. They are currently running a survey to see how you use theses; give your view for a chance to win a £50 British Library shop token. Read more »

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Forgotten faces of science

By Natasha Neill, executive officer at the Society of Biology

Our new project “Biology: Changing the World” has had a busy start and the past few weeks have seen great engagement from the public and our member organisations. The project really seems to have hit upon a popular theme and I’ve been amazed at the positive reaction from people and the stories that they’ve shared about their favourite ‘un-sung hero’.

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The endless quest for knowledge!

Mark Leach, the Society of Biology’s membership marketing manager, writes on interesting facts.

The EU's standard toxic symbol

As part of our planning for this year’s Biology Week, one of our (not infrequent) office conversations recently focussed on interesting science facts and quiz questions.

Did you know, for example, that  giant lime green stick insects (Diapherodes gigantea), such as Alfreda and Mrs Darwin, the latest additions to our team, have been found to harbour natural antibacterial agents, so they can fight off bacteria that the insect has never been exposed to before?

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