Tracey Cuin 2019 Science Meets Parliament report


At the end of November 2019, I represented the ASPS at Science meets Parliament. It was a full-on, intense but very enjoyable couple of days. There were excellent seminars, incredibly constructive workshops, useful and interesting networking opportunities and a chance to talk to people who did science things that I wasn’t aware of or had a clue about.

The first day started with a breakfast meeting with other with “ecosystem science” societies – a chance to meet and chat to life science people outside my research area.

Afterwards and dressed nicely (clear instructions were provided with what to wear), we started the first day.

Presentations, seminars and workshops was the order of the day. The importance of communicating with MPs, the responsibility of all scientist to share their expertise and that we needed to work together with politician was emphasised. Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood gave an inspiring presentation. And the workshops and seminars of how to communicate and pitch your science were enlightening and a bit of an education.

The Gala Dinner was the social highlight of the event. Good food, excellent seminars and wonderful table companions. I sat next to a guy who is improving maths education in Indigenous communities, and it was fascinating to hear about his work.

I also met Brian Mitchell, Federal Member of Lyons, Tasmania, to whom I was assigned. He happened to be born 20 km from where I was in the UK, so that was a good start. I invited him to come and visit the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, which he did in January this year. An excellent birthday evening for me!

More seminars and workshops on the second day, plus a chance to more formally meet Mr Brian Mitchell. I didn’t get much chance to talk to him – he was called away for a “division”. But I did get him to agree to put himself forward for the STEM Ambassador Programme, which he did. I am now an Ambassador, representing the ASPS, with him as my partner MP.

The absolute best bit of the whole event though was Question Time. It was the time of the Angus Taylor affair, so it was particularly entertaining – and loud! Much more boisterous than the UK equivalent.

So, a brilliant couple of days and I would advise anyone who gets the chance, go to this event.