Postgraduate researchers win prestigious policy internships

Two Leicester postgraduate researchers have been selected for prestigious internships that will see them assist with briefings to Parliament on science policy issues.

Katie Raymer, a third year PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Emmeline Ledgerwood, an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded part-time student, have both won highly prestigious internships with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST).

POST provides balanced and accessible overviews of research from across the biological, physical and social sciences, and engineering and technology. The findings of this research are placed in a policy context for Parliamentary use.

Each year the Research Councils organise a very limited number of funded internships for PhD students to work at partner host organisations on one or more policy topics relevant to both the student and the host. The student is expected to produce at least one briefing paper, participate in a policy inquiry and/or organise a policy event.  Internships are awarded to both parliamentary and non-parliamentary organisations.

Science and Technology Funding Council (STFC)-funded Katie Raymer said: “As part of my internship with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) I will be writing a POSTnote, which is a briefing paper that summarises public policy issues and is given to MPs and Peers. It provides them with relevant background knowledge of key issues before they reach the top of the political agenda.

“I will be using the research and communication skills I have developed during my PhD to review the literature, identify and interview stakeholders from across academia, industry and government, and condense all of the information I learn down to a 4 page briefing document.

“I am excited to study and become an expert in a new area, as well as to gain an insight into how scientific research is used in policymaking. It will be a great experience to work in Parliament, and see how the POSTnote I will produce can have an influence on policy.”

Katie’s supervisor, Dr Suzanne Imber, Physics and Astronomy, said: “I am delighted that Katie has been awarded such a prestigious internship and I anticipate that the skills and insight into policy making that she will learn during these three months will be of great benefit as she moves towards finishing up her PhD, and invaluable to her future career.”

AHRC-funded Emmeline said: “I am delighted to be offered the RCUK policy fellowship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. By working on research briefings that aim to inform members of the Houses of Parliament about current policy trends I shall be part of the process by which academic research reaches a wider audience.

“My PhD focuses on how the British government funded and managed scientific research during the 1980s and 1990s so this fellowship will give me a real insight into the use of science in government.”

Dr Sally Horrocks, School of History, Politics and International Relations and Emmeline’s supervisor said: “This fellowship will give Emmeline a unique opportunity to get first-hand experience of the process of science policy making and will also be of huge benefit to her PhD research project on the privatisation of government science.”

Professor Helen Atkinson, Graduate Dean, said: “These POST internships are incredibly prestigious and the competition to secure them intense. We are delighted that two PhD students from Leicester have secured positions.”