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Bristol MP to visit University on pairing scheme

Stephen Williams MP (left) with Dr Chris Truman outside the Houses of Parliament

Stephen Williams MP (left) with Dr Chris Truman outside the Houses of Parliament

Press release issued: 24 November 2008

Bristol MP Stephen Williams is to visit the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol on Friday November 28, as part of an MP-Scientist pairing scheme organised by the Royal Society.

Stephen Williams, Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills and Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, will visit Dr Chris Truman in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Bristol on Friday 28 November as part of the MP-Scientist Pairing Scheme.

Established by the Royal Society in 2001 as part of the Science in Society programme, the scheme aims to build bridges between some of the best research workers in the country and members of the UK parliament.  To date, over 300 MPs and scientists have taken part (150 pairs).  The scheme comprises three activities: a briefing by the Royal Society, a week in Westminster, and reciprocal visits to the constituency office and the laboratory.

Mr Williams has a degree in history from Bristol University and has lived and worked in the city since graduating.  Dr Truman’s research focuses on measuring and modelling residual stress, and fracture of structural materials.

Mr Williams will shadow Dr Truman on his day-long visit to get a flavour of his day-to-day work and an overview of the department’s research.  He will also meet the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas, the Dean of Engineering, Professor Nick Lieven and PhD student, Simon Lewis, to find out about life as a PhD student and about the significant issues in engineering education today.

Commenting on his week in Westminster at the beginning of November, Dr Truman said: ‘It was an enlightening and positive experience. As a scientist with clear opinions concerning the most worthwhile distribution of Government funds, it underlined the importance of engaging in the consultation process.’

You can read more about Dr Truman’s week in Westminster in the diary below.

In the course of shadowing Stephen, I observed Prime Ministers Questions, viewed a debate in Westminster Hall concerning widening participation in Higher Education, attended a reception hosted by Western Aerospace companies and accompanied Stephen to a television debate concerning parking issues in Bristol.  The debate was aired on ITV’s “The West This Week”.

In addition to shadowing Stephen I attended two sessions of the House of Commons Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee and listened to presentations from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee and Science in Government. Of high personal interest were select committee meetings on providing the necessary skills for a new generation of civil nuclear power stations and “cross examination” of the new Chief Scientific Adviser John Beddington, where a whole range of issues were discussed.

On a less serious note, famous faces I noticed in the Portcullis Building atrium or Westminster restaurants were Jack Straw, Shirley Williams, Geoff Hoon and, rather surprisingly, Garth Crooks.  I never did find out what Garth was doing there . . .


Further information

The Royal Society is an independent academy promoting the natural and applied sciences. Founded in 1660, the Society has three roles, as the UK academy of science, as a learned Society, and as a funding agency. It responds to individual demand with selection by merit, not by field. As they prepare for their 350th anniversary in 2010, they are working to achieve five strategic priorities, to:

· Invest in future scientific leaders and in innovation;
· Influence policymaking with the best scientific advice;
· Invigorate science and mathematics education;
· Increase access to the best science internationally;
· Inspire an interest in the joy, wonder and excitement of scientific discovery.

Please contact Joanne Fryer for further information.
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