On 4 March, the annual ‘Voice of the Future’ event took place in the Boothroyd Room in the House of Commons, where a panel of young researchers aged between 16 and 35 were invited to quiz a variety of key political figures, including the government's chief scientific advisor Mark Walport (pictured), and members of the Science & Technology Select Committee.
Two members of the Royal Statistical Society’s Young Statisticians’ section (YSS), Tim Paulden and Silvia Liverani, attended the event. Silvia found the event inspiring and would encourage others to take part if they get the chance. ‘I learned a lot about politics and the role we can have as scientists; and it definitely feels less out of reach than it did before,’ she said. ‘I was also impressed by how seriously the politicians took the event.’
Tim added: 'It was fantastic to have an opportunity to sit at the famous Boothroyd Room "horseshoe" and hear the Science and Technology Committee’s perspectives on such a diverse array of topics. I was particularly fascinated by their views on nurturing scientific talent in schools, forging effective collaborations between universities and industry, and engaging with the public. Many thanks to the Society of Biology for spearheading such a tremendous event.'
The event can be watched on the Science and Technology Committee website.
A second event promoting early career researchers, SET for Britain, took place on 9 March. The event, an annual poster competition for early-career researchers in biological sciences, chemistry, physics, engineering and mathematics, is organised by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee in collaboration with a number of learned societies including the Council for Mathematical Sciences (of which the RSS is a founding member). Selected entries are invited to present their work in parliament, and are given a brief introduction to Parliament and how it deals with science, engineering, medicine and technology. Entrants compete for a prestigious awards, which are made not only for the best research, but for the ability to communicate their work to a lay audience.
In the mathematics category, the gold award went to Dr Peter Buchak from Imperial College London for his poster, ‘The mathematics of imaginary numbers in very real problems of holey optical fibre fabrication’, the silver was won by Dr Lorna Ayton of the University of Cambridge for ‘Reducing the sound generated by aeroengines’ and the bronze award went to the University of Dundee’s Dr Miho Janvier, for ‘Statistical studies of solar storm geometry for better space weather predictions’.
It’s the second year that mathematical sciences have been involved in this prestigious event and RSS vice president for academic affairs, Kevin McConway, was one of the judges. Commenting on the event, Sir Adrian Smith, who chairs the Council for the Mathematical Sciences (CMS) said it was ‘a wonderful opportunity to showcase the importance of the mathematical sciences to a wider audience.’