On the 15th of February, project PI Gavin Foster hosted Mrs. Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOC). Gavin was paired with Caroline as part of the Royal Society MP-Scientist pairing scheme and he spent a week in Westminster in October 2011 attending several select committee meetings, learning about how scientific knowledge is used in policy-making and discovering how an MP spends her time in Westminster.
Figure 1: Gavin shows Caroline some 2 million year old deep sea sediment from the North Atlantic
As a member of the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Caroline has a keen interest in Science and the Environment. Her day at NOC started with an introduction to the activities of the NOC and OES and a tour of the centre. Caroline had the opportunity to explore some of our exciting projects including the Lake Ellsworth project and some of our facilities, such as BOSCORF and the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).
Figure 2: Gavin arm waving about boron isotope geochemistry in the isotope lab
The aim of the scheme is to build bridges between parliamentarians, civil servants and research scientists and give MP’s the opportunity to explore the science behind their decisions. So, after a lunch with Gavin’s boron group, Caroline ventured down to the lab and got some first hand experience of boron isotope geochemistry from sample preparation and chemistry to mass spectrometry. (Figures)
Figure 3: Gavin explaining the fundamentals of mass spectrometry to Caroline in the mass spectrometry lab
We ended the busy day with a well-deserved coffee where Caroline met and discussed a variety of topics with a few other scientists from the NOC. Gavin said of the visit: “the Royal society pairing scheme is a great way to meet politicians and talk to policy makers directly about your science. I learnt a lot in Westminster and explaining the importance of palaeoclimate research in one afternoon was a challenge, but I think Caroline left the NOC with a real idea of the value of a deep time perspective on climate change.”
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