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The Royal Society of Biology and our Scotland branch attended the 22nd annual Science and the Parliament event at Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on Wednesday 23rd November.

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The Royal Society of Biology and the Scotland Branch

Designed to foster close relations with policymakers and key stakeholders, Science and the Parliament is organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, on behalf of, and in cooperation with, the Scottish science and engineering community.

Returning to an in-person event for the first time since 2019, this year’s event focussed on the theme of innovation. RSB used the opportunity to demonstrate their recent activity in the exhibition space alongside the other learned societies and various professional bodies.

The event began with a welcoming address by Professor Gill Reid, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry. This was followed by the first keynote address from Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise in the Scottish Government.

The first Panel Discussion, on the theme of Innovation, was hosted by Professor Sarah Skerratt who is the CEO at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and this gave the audience their first opportunity to actively contribute to the proceedings.

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From left to right: Jamie Halcro Johnston, Scottish Conservatives; Maggie Chapman, Scottish Greens; Clare Adamson, Scottish National Party; Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrats; Michael Marra, Scottish Labour; and Ken Macdonald.

The second panel discussion gave the attendees the opportunity to quiz MSPs from all the major Scottish political parties on the theme of Innovation, STEM and Beyond. This session was expertly chaired by journalist and former BBC Special Correspondent Ken Macdonald. MSPs on the panel were: Clare Adamson, Scottish National Party; Jamie Halcro Johnston, Scottish Conservatives; Maggie Chapman, Scottish Greens; Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrats; and Michael Marra, Scottish Labour.

There were then keynotes given by Dr Susie Mitchell, (Programme Director, Glasgow City of Science and Innovation) and Professor Julie Fitzpatrick (Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland).

The day concluded with the Scotland branch of RSB presenting prizes to celebrate the achievements of four young Scottish Biologists: Alice Brooks AMRSB, University of Strathclyde, for the Outreach Champion Award; Annabel Davies, The High School of Glasgow, for the top grade for Advanced Higher Biology; Sarah Fulton, Woodfarm High School, for the top grade in Higher Biology; and Andrew Le Poidevin, Bridge of Don Academy, for the top grade in Higher Human Biology.

Alice Brooks in particular undertook some amazing work to do with Women’s Health. She has volunteered for a women's health charity called Wellbeing of Women, and has worked hard to improve the charity’s engagement with young people.

Speaking about the event, Professor Kevin O'Dell FRSB, deputy chair (outreach) of the Scotland branch of RSB, noted: “It was great for the Science and the Parliament conference to be in person this year, it was so valuable to be able to network with different learned societies in person and to come together to celebrate some amazing young individuals. Alice has undertook some inspiring work to advocate for Women’s Health, she thoroughly deserves this award and RSB cannot wait to see what she does next.”

Commenting on her Outreach Champion award, Alice said: “it means a lot to receive this award, I get so absorbed in my work to impact the wider population, so it was really nice to get personal recognition and was quite surprising! It’s great to get the acknowledgement that what I’m doing is beneficial to making changes in women’s health.”

Susie Rabin AMRSB, associate director of parliamentary and public affairs at RSB, stated: “RSB are delighted to see such talent being recognised and hope these awards inspire the next generation of biologists. It’s great to see these young people getting the top marks in all these higher biology level subjects across Scotland and to be able to shed light on the exciting outreach work that Alice has undertaken – congratulations to everyone.”

The Science and the Parliament event ended with a buffet and networking of scientists, learned societies, and policymakers, as well as giving the opportunity to discuss the great achievements of the four winners of the awards from the Scotland branch of RSB.