Joseph Pegler 2021 Science Meets Parliament report

Science Meets Parliament 2021

Joseph Pegler, The University of Newcastle

In my opinion, an inherent quality of a scientist is the desire to leave things better than when they found them. Regardless of the field of research, pushing the envelope of knowledge forward not only satisfies one’s curiosity for answers but drives society towards addressing the issues faced by current and future generations.

As the issues we face globally require cross-discipline and cross-sector collaboration, I felt privileged to be selected as one of the ASPS delegates for Science meets Parliament 2021. Traditionally run as a two-day event hosted annually in Canberra, this year’s event was alternatively hosted online because of COVID-19. While the format had been modified, the concept of facilitating the interaction of STEM professionals and politicians remained unhindered. The benefit of the virtual attendance format resulted in sessions to be run from mid-March until its conclusion on the 31st of March. I found the sessions to be extremely beneficial, with the virtual sessions largely centred around expert panels providing their wealth of knowledge on all things policy, networking, media engagement, effective communication and the importance of cross-sector collaboration particularly strengthening the ties between STEM professionals, politicians and political staffers.

Focusing on the content of the two main days and while there were many more highlights, I will touch on three. When attending a session on ‘How to be a great ambassador for the STEM sector’, it comes as no surprise Corey Tutt, founder and CEO of Deadly Science, was an ideal panellist. It was great to hear from Corey who highlighted the importance and the role we all have in ensuring inclusivity in science. Given the nature of this event I was eager to hear from Nobel Laureate and ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt on ‘Preparing to meet a parliamentarian’, and as expected his insight into effective science communication was extremely valuable. The final highlight I will touch on was from Dr. Sarah Pearce, Deputy Chief of CSIRO, who highlighted the importance of diversifying one’s skillset and embracing opportunities.

While the nature of sitting weeks for Federal Parliament resulted in the unfortunate termination of the meeting with my selected Federal Member of Parliament, this by no means dampened what I considered to be a tremendously beneficial and informing experience.

I would again like to thank ASPS for the opportunity and strongly encourage others to participate in future years as this is an ideal opportunity to learn from and network with a diverse number of STEM and policy experts.