A small but perfectly formed group of eight interested Eastern region professionals met at the University of East Anglia to watch the live streaming of the IFST Lecture 2016: Dame Anne Glover, Vice-Principal External Affairs & Dean for Europe, University of Aberdeen speaking on ‘Science for the EU and EU for science’.
The evening started with introductions and a chat over biscuits and coffee. Attendees were enthusiastic and involved in manufacturing, distribution, academic, community and/or consulting initiatives in the Eastern region, with some having extensive EU experience/interests as well. Many of us were curious about the EU perspective of the evening in terms of learning more about export markets, funding for research, and future policy and innovation directions during and post Brexit.
Then the Chair of the Eastern Branch, Steve Timms, introduced the newly launched branch, and laid out its aims and objectives, including how we hope to make IFST locally relevant.
Then we turned to the live stream with a welcome from Dr. Maureen Edmonson, OBE President of the IFST. The main lecture by Dame Anne Glover which followed was insightful, entertaining and interesting. She touched on important areas such as communication (Scientists need to learn to communicate with non-scientists), credible evidence (Being clear ourselves and helping the public and policy makers be aware of the difference between opinion and fact), and the concept of risk and decision making based on scientific facts but also that is in line with the accepted moral outlook and core values of society (E.g. as a society we may sometimes decide to take the less obvious option scientifically, if it is seen as more in line with our core values).
Dame Anne Glover took questions from the audience including one from the Eastern branch sent to London by tweet: Are UK scientists different from other European scientists? How? Her reply was broadly that there is more in common than that differs! Something important to keep in mind when working with our near and dear neighbours!
Dame Anne’s final summing up was that as scientists we need to be effective translators of our research explaining the evidence, the uncertainty and the consequences in language understandable by the general public. Dame Anne also called upon the scientific community to call-out the misuse of evidence. Overall, the evening was judged to be enjoyable and useful. The company, content, catering and facilities were all of very high standard. We hope to see many future events of this type and look forwards to welcoming more Eastern branch members.