Policy profile: Arianne Matlin MRSB

The RSB’s associate director of policy and publishing on her new role

What does your role involve?

My role is to ensure that the RSB develops, delivers and communicates a programme of policy work to maximise the benefit of biosciences to society. I’m responsible for strategic oversight of our science policy, education policy and publishing teams, as well as engaging with a range of stakeholders such as other learned societies and relevant government departments. I have only been in post since July, so I’m still figuring it out!

What did you do before you worked for RSB?

Most recently I led on science and public health policy at the British Dental Association. I’m finding there is overlap with my current role in some of the major policy issues, such as AMR and sustainability. Before that, I worked in science publishing.

What scientific or policy issues do you find particularly interesting?

My PhD and post-doc projects focused on RNA processing in the control of eukaryotic gene expression, so I’m really delighted to see RNA research in the spotlight at the moment following the success of COVID vaccines. Education policy is a new area for me, but one I think is incredibly important to ensure that we have the pipeline of skilled and creative bioscientists we need to address some of society’s most pressing issues. We have to capitalise on the pandemic and increasingly worrying evidence of climate change and biodiversity loss to create momentum among policymakers to prioritise and support science education and training.

What do you see as the big challenges for your team this year?

One challenge is that the scope of bioscience research and policy is so broad, meaning that we have to focus on a selection of areas that are of paramount importance and where we can have the greatest impact. RSB has been developing a set of science policy priorities for the next five years, as well as an evaluation of our impact to guide the work we do. The rapidly changing funding and political landscapes nationally and globally present further challenges and we need to anticipate and respond nimbly to evolving circumstances.

What do you like doing outside RSB work?

Travelling, cooking and spending time with my family. I get very excited when my children want to talk about biology or tell me something interesting they have learned in a science lesson at school!

Dr Arianne Matlin is the RSB's associate director of policy and publishing and former head of health and science policy at the British Dental Association.