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Blog

Voice of Young Science USA, in London

Morgan Thompson is a graduate student at Harvard University and is outreach director of the graduate student organization, Science in the News, which promotes engagement of early career researchers in science education and communication. She is currently visiting the Sense About Science office with another USA researcher, Dr. Joanna Christodoulou from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to find out more about Sense About Science and Voice of Young Science (VoYS) before returning to the USA to help with plans to set up VoYS USA.

From arriving in London on Guy Fawkes Night to attending a parliamentary event, my first week in London with the Sense About Science team has been jam packed with once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Joanna and I have been invited into the Sense About Science team for two weeks in order to get a sense of how the office functions and experience a VoYS workshop. While we’re here we’ll prepare a workshop guide that can be used by others to run ‘Standing up for Science’ media workshops, as part of ‘train the trainer’ initiatives.

Last Tuesday, I attended the Sense About Science Annual Reception at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. This year’s Standing up for Science award winner was comedian, Robin Ince. Robin himself represented the theme of the evening – stepping into new territory – having really taken a leap into the world of science and scientists in order to make the wonder of the natural world come alive and be more accessible to a broader public, as well as generally promote curiosity and critical thought. If you aren’t familiar with Robin’s work check out his Radio 4 show with Brian Cox ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’. Besides meeting Robin and hearing about his plans for an upcoming USA tour, I was able to discuss the plans for starting up VoYS USA with many Sense About Science supporters and VoYS members, new and old. Everyone was immensely excited about the idea of creating a VoYS USA network that can unite existing efforts and the enthusiasm of early career researchers in the States, overcoming unique challenges of vast geographic area and differences in political structures.

Then on Wednesday we were off to Parliament to attend a Libel Reform Campaign event. The Libel Reform Campaign is run by Sense About Science, English PEN, and Index on Censorship and the meeting was hosted by Dr Julian Huppert MP. The event, chaired by Dr Evan Harris, brought together the voices of many supporters of the campaign including, libel defendants Dr Simon Singh and Dr Peter Wilmshurst, Which?, Global Witness, Citizens Advice, Mumsnet, Nature, Facebook, AOL, the Publishers Association and Liberty. The message of the day was a rallying cry to redouble libel reform efforts to get the issue on the parliament’s legislative agenda for next year and many interested parties turned out to hear it. A huge influx of parliamentarians entered the room as the event began, blocking up the door since the room was already full to capacity. A great turnout for an interdisciplinary effort that has already had tremendous success raising government awareness of the issue and influencing the outcome of the Joint Scrutiny Committee’s report on a proposed defamation bill. Read more about libel reform and how Sense About Science is supporting the cause.

We have another whole week here in the UK! This week, I will head off to Glasgow with Julia and Victoria for a VoYS ‘Standing up for Science’ workshop (the first Sense About Science workshop to ever be held in Glasgow!). Check out more about the workshop here.