September 27, 2017, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham

Leaving the lab: reflecting on how science is important in politics

This week we hear from Rosie Brian about her 3 month postgraduate placement with Brussels based Sense about Science EU.

Undertaking a placement during my PhD is required by my funding body, BBSRC, so it was something that I went into with fairly open eyes and a clear sense of what skills I wanted to develop. The placement was primarily focused on helping to organise and find speakers for an event called Evidence Matters EU. Having done some communications work for Sense about Science in the past there was a fairly smooth transition into the project. However I was surprised and gratified to be trusted with a lot of responsibility right from week one, especially in terms of representing Sense about Science at many meetings and networking events during my contract.

The highlights of my placement included attending two parliamentary events which discussed the relevance of evidence-based policy in a post-truth era. The events were held in the first and final week of my placement and the timing really highlighted how I had developed confidence during my time at Sense about Science. A few months after my placement had ended I was invited back to European Parliament in Brussels for the Evidence Matters EU event I had helped organise. As soon as I arrived at the venue in Brussels, I was caught up in the delegates’ mood of enthusiasm and anticipation. After an introductory word by Sense about Science EU director, Sofie Vanthournout, 16 citizens of various nations took to each stood up for a minute and, in their native language, explained why evidence-based policy making is integral to their everyday lives. Hearing the citizens speak in their mother-tongue was extremely powerful as their emotions could be more clearly observed. The variety of languages also displayed clearly that concern regarding evidence-based policy is a Europe wide discussion. English translations of what each citizen was expressing were provided on the screen, allowing a clear understanding of each individuals concerns ranging from sustainable hunting to evidence-based medical treatments.

While the Evidence Matters event was a roaring success it was also a great personal opportunity as it highlighted the diversity of people I had been communicating with while at Sense about Science EU. I can’t thank the Sense about Science EU and London offices enough for providing me with such a fantastic experience.

Looking back on the placement I loved the communication side of things but sometimes felt that the technical, academic aspect was a bit lacking. The positive outcome of this though is that it helped me to develop a clearer idea of my future path. Specifically, I think I’d like a role in science communication that focusses on one specific topic, allowing me to be involved in all stages of communication from exploring the research, processing it into an accessible form, and communicating it effectively.

I left my placement at Sense about Science EU very grateful for the fantastic opportunities, guidance and support I had been given. During my time in Brussels I developed a new-found confidence in myself as well as deeper self-awareness. The placement has provided me with more clarity about where my skills lie but also taught me that I enjoy the challenge of developing new skills when entering the workplace. Overall, I couldn’t recommend Sense about Science for your placement more enthusiastically!

If you’re a student interested in doing a postgraduate placement visit our webpage for more information, or check out current opportunities at the Placements Portal.

Posted in Placements