PhD student Suzannah Ravenscroft has just finished a 3 month fellowship at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) in Westminster. She tells us about her time there and why she applied for the position.
For the past 3 months Suzannah has been living in London and working on the Parliamentary estate full time. The main task within the fellowship is to write a POST note on an assigned topic, in this case education in youth custody. This involved reading and researching into the topic.
Off the back of the research Suzannah then interviewed people who were experts in the field, relevant stakeholders and governmental departments. She also sat in on relevant debates in the Lords and Commons, all party parliamentary groups and select committee hearings.
From all of this the POST note is written and the last half of the placement mainly concerned writing, clarifying information and having an internal review from permanent POST staff, then an external review where the POST note is sent to the people interviewed during the research stage and finally a sign off with the director of POST.
Suzannah applied for the fellowship because she wanted to learn more about how scientific research and policy can interact. Her PhD concerns anxiety in 4 to 8 year olds and child mental health will always be policy relevant.
"I was interested in how could I potentially make sure that if I had a findings, a set of research that I thought policy makers would want to know about, how would I get it on their radar. The fellowship definitely gave me an insight into this and also into the working of parliament and the culture and processes that policy making decisions go through"
Coming to Reading
Suzannah also talks to us about why she decided to come to the University of Reading, and her experience.
"I chose to come to the University of Reading so I could continue working with my supervisor whom I had a completed a summer placement with and the university offered me the chance to work with some of the best researchers within my topic of interest, anxiety in children. The research facilities at Reading also meant that I could realise some really exciting research ideas I had developed with my supervisor"
The best of PCLS
Suzannah says that she has most enjoyed being able to push her ideas and research forward. Having the opportunity to talk to people with such a wide variety of and expertise amongst the other academics and PhD students to help her do this has been great.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed studying here and have really found the support of the research community within which I work both in terms of my fellow PhD students and the anxiety research group invaluable throughout the PhD process"
"I would love to stay in research, possibly move on to a postdoc. I would really welcome the opportunity to explore the possibility of feeding the research I do into policy in the way I saw other researchers do while I was at POST within whatever role I come to next"