Applying Microbiology to Policy


On 22 March, we convened the inaugural meeting of the new SfAM Policy Subcommittee, here at Charles Darwin House. Chris, the Society’s policy officer, recounts the meeting.

One step beyond

Kicking off the first meeting of our Policy Subcommittee, Clare Taylor, General Secretary and the Policy Subcommittee chair, highlighted the formation of the Policy Subcommittee as a “serious step forward” in SfAM’s science policy engagement, building upon the efforts made over the past few years.

We were also delighted to welcome the guiding presence of Andrew Miller, who was MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston and Chair of the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee until his retirement in 2015. Andrew attended as a celebrity guest at our ‘engaging with science policy’ workshop at the SfAM annual conference last year, so he is particularly well placed to give our Subcommittee the best start possible.

Building on our strengths

The Policy Subcommittee first discussed the strengths of our Society: hallmarks that have featured in our efforts to date, and will continue to be reflected in our future science policy activities. These include our presence as a bridge between academic science and applied use, our representation in issues of international importance and reach, and not least our well-established network of Early Career Scientist members.

The group also discussed the wide variety of networks that are maintained by both the Society and our membership, as well as the importance of raising awareness of our members’ expertise to government institutions such as the Government Office for Science (GO-Science) and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) panels.

A large portion of the day was committed to a discussion on priority topics for our future policy engagement work, focused around the outputs of stakeholder workshops we ran in early 2015 with the Microbiology Society. Among the issues discussed were big ticket items including antimicrobial resistance and food security, areas in which SfAM is already deeply involved, as well as broader issues such as skills development and the now-ever-present Brexit.

Plenty food for thought, then.

Calling all applied microbiologists!

The Policy Subcommittee and SfAM staff are continuing to lay the groundwork for the Society’s future policy engagement projects. As part of this, we will develop a solid network of our members who have an interest in science policy and public engagement, from across the spectrum of applied microbiology.

The next meeting of our Policy Subcommittee shall take place during the SfAM Summer Conference this July. If you’re interested in keeping close to the development of our policy activities, then get in touch with Chris, or alternatively seek us out during one of the Society’s events! More information on our Subcommittee members can be found here.

Categories: Feature Articles, Policy, SfAM News

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