Professor Sir Mark Walport joined Science Soapbox for our first ever live show on July 21st. Sir Mark is UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) and Head of Science and Engineering Profession (HoSEP). Prior to his role in civil service, Sir Mark served as Director of the Wellcome Trust after leaving his post as Professor of Medicine and Head of the Division of Medicine at Imperial College London. In this episode, the Science Soapbox team, with the help of our live audience, chat about the distinction between scientific advice and scientific policy and the three lenses through which policy decisions are made.
Here are some of the links and references mentioned during the show:
- Learn more about the role of a chief scientific adviser with this report from The Foundation for Science and Technology and the official page on GOV.UK
- If you’re as keen on Sir Mark’s lens analogy as we are, you can read more on Times Higher Education
- Sir Mark talked about a bunch of super cool acronyms like SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) and COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room). You can learn more about how these play out in responding to disease outbreak here.
- In 1959, C.P. Snow delivered his famous lecture “The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution” at Cambridge, which you can read here
- For all our fellow science communication wonks, Sir Mark discussed scientific word choice in “Gene ‘edits’ and other words that don’t help” in WIRED
- Avital geeked out over a bunch of Sir Mark’s online lectures in front of our audience. His opening keynote at Oxford’s conference Rigour and Openness in 21st Century Science is a favorite.
- Devon mentioned the open data sharing initiative headed up by former Science Soapbox guest Dr. Brian Nosek, whose episode you should most definitely check out. Sir Mark has a history of bolstering open access publishing and has been pushing for more of this in the UK.
- Sir Mark shared some of his favorite pieces of science-art, which include the work of the sculptor Marc Quinn and the engineer Thomas Heatherwick, and the entries from the Wellcome Image Awards
This episode was recorded on July 21, 2016 in front of a live audience at Caspary Auditorium at The Rockefeller University. Special thanks to Visager for music and to the Science and Education Policy Association and the UK Science and Innovation Network for co-sponsoring the event.