Press Releases

Political alchemy comes to the University of Reading – University of Reading

Release Date : 02 December 2004

Big BenThe myths that shroud the professions of politician and scientist are set to be dispelled when Jane Griffiths, MP for Reading East, visits Dr Rowan Sutton in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading on Friday 3 December as part of a unique 'pairing' scheme run by the Royal Society – the UK national academy of science. During her visit, Ms Griffiths will see some of the work that goes on in best meteorology department in the country. She will visit one of the laboratories (where there will be an opportunity for photographs) and meet some of the 70-80 staff in the department and some of the 110 undergraduate and postgraduate students. She will also visit scientists in the Centre for Global Atmospheric Modelling, who work with the state-of-the-art Earth Simulator supercomputer in Japan. They use the Earth Simulator, which is one of the fastest computers in the world and housed in a building the size of four tennis courts, to help them predict the evolution of the Earth's climate in the 21st century. Dr Sutton has already spent a week at the House of Commons as part of the pairing scheme's 'Westminster Week'. This provided Dr Sutton a 'behind the scenes' insight into how science policy is formed as well as an understanding of the working life of an MP. Dr Sutton said: "The pairing scheme has offered a fascinating insight into how science influences politics and vice-versa. With science at the heart of so many issues these days, visiting Westminster and seeing how it operates should be a part of every scientist's education." The Royal Society's MP-Scientist pairing scheme aims to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best scientists in the UK. It is an opportunity for MPs to become better informed about science issues and for scientists to understand how they can influence science policy. The scheme was launched in 2001 and 68 pairs of scientists and MPs have taken part. The Earl of Selborne, chairman of the Royal Society's Science in Society Committee, which oversees the pairing scheme, said: "Issues such as cloning, GM crops, climate change and MMR demonstrate that science is often as much about politics as what goes on in a laboratory. This scheme allows politicians and scientists to understand each others roles better and creates constructive working relationships between the two professions. We are delighted that, in its fourth year, and MPs and top young scientists are just as enthusiastic as ever in participating." end Notes for editors 1. The University of Reading is one of the top 20 research intensive universities in the UK. In the last Research Assessment Exercise, 15 departments were awarded the grade of 5, with five designated the top rating of 5* (Archaeology, English, Italian, Meteorology and Psychology). The University consistently achieves high ratings for the quality of its teaching from the national Quality Assurance Agency. 2. 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. For more information go to: For further information, maps and to confirm attendance, please contact: Craig Hillsley, Press Officer, University of Reading Tel: 0118 378 7388 Email: For further information about the Royal Society contact: Sue Windebank or Bob Ward Press and Public Relations Tel: 020 7451 2514/2516


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