Science and the Parliament 2019

20 November 2019, Edinburgh, United Kingdom


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.

This 19th annual event, a firm fixture in the Scottish parliamentary calendar, will be held once again at Dynamic Earth, Holyrood.
This year’s theme will focus on “Sustainability” with speakers including Sheila Rowan the Chief Scientific Advisor for Scotland, Roseanna Cunningham MSP Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, and a panel of MSPs discussing science and the climate emergency. We are currently confirming the rest programme for the event.

Science and the Parliament will comprise an exhibition - an excellent opportunity for our leading scientific societies, professional bodies, and universities to demonstrate their work - together with an impressive speaker programme of keynote addresses and panel discussions, including one with MSPs representing the main political parties. The day will end with an early evening reception.

Caring Responsibilities 

Grants for carers have been introduced following the Royal Society of Chemistry Breaking the barriers report where 78% of chemists working in UK academia felt that managing parenting and/or caring responsibilities has an impact on women’s retention and progression. This fund is not limited to women scientists and welcomes applications from anyone with caring responsibilities, for more information please refer to the ‘bursaries’ section on this page.

Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary, United Kingdom

Roseanna Cunningham was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform in May 2016.

Roseanna Cunningham was born in Glasgow in 1951 but spent most of her early years in Edinburgh and East Lothian. In 1960, she travelled to Australia with her family and subsequently completed her schooling in Fremantle, Western Australia and obtained her first university degree from University of Western Australia.

She became interested in politics while still a teenager and in fact first joined the SNP in 1969 as an overseas member.

Ms Cunningham returned to Scotland in 1976 and, within only a few months of her arrival, was working full time at SNP HQ, while also being involved in branch and constituency politics in Edinburgh.

In 1980, she returned to university in Edinburgh and obtained a Law Degree followed by a Diploma in Legal Practice from Aberdeen University. From her graduation in 1983 to 1988, she worked as a solicitor in local government. After a brief period in private practice, she became a member of the Faculty of Advocates.

She was elected to the House of Commons in the Perth and Kinross by-election in 1995, was re-elected in 1997 and subsequently stood successfully for the Scottish Parliament in 1999. She stood down from Westminster in 2001.

Ms Cunningham held a number of local and national offices in the SNP, including Deputy Leader from 2000-2004.

She has remained a member of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 to present and has been a Committee Convener for the Justice Committee, the Health Committee and the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee. She became Minister for the Environment in 2009 and Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training in November 2014.

Sheila Rowan, Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland, United Kingdom

Professor Sheila Rowan was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) for Scotland in June 2016.
This is a part-time position within the Scottish Government.  Sheila also remains Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research, University of Glasgow, a position she has held since 2009.  She received an MBE in 2011.
As CSA Scotland, Sheila champions the use of science to inform policy development.  She works closely with the Scottish Science Advisory Council, of which she is an ex officio member, to help ensure that the Scottish Government has access to the best scientific advice to inform its work across all policy areas.
The CSA is also a keen advocate – across Scotland and further afield – of our world-leading science base, and its potential to benefit our economy, people and environment.
Sheila’s research is targeted at developing optical materials for use in gravitational wave detectors, and her recent work has been a crucial part of the Advanced LIGO upgrades, carried out between 2010 and 2015, that contributed to one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of this century: the first detection of gravitational waves announced in February 2016.  This resulted in a share of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her and the members of her team in Glasgow. 
Sheila was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society in 2018.  She is the President-elect of the Institute of Physics and is Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow.

Peter Higgins, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Peter’s early career was as an environmental scientist and freshwater and fisheries biologist, before training to teach Biology and Outdoor Education. He is currently Professor of Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education at the University of Edinburgh. He teaches extensively and conducts research on the relationship between these fields with a focus on learning for sustainability.  He is Director of the Global Environment and Society Academy, and the United Nations University Regional Centre of Expertise in ESD (Scotland).  Since 1999 he has advised the Scottish Government on his fields, and chaired the Ministerial Learning for Sustainability Advisory and Implementation Groups (2011-2016). He is the Scottish representative on a related UNESCO programme, an Expert Advisor to the UK Commission for UNESCO, and has supported education and policy developments in a several other countries. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Trustee of the Field Studies Council. He was recently awarded the University’s highest award for teaching, the Chancellor’s Award.

Clare Adamson MSP, Convenor of the Education and Skills Committee, United Kingdom

Clare Adamson is the MSP for Motherwell & Wishaw and Convenor of the Education and Skills Committee at the Scottish Parliament. Clare also convenes the Cross Party Group on Accident Prevention and Safety Awareness; and the Cross Party Group on Science and Technology. 

Clare is passionate about education and STEM subjects; particularly women’s representation in these sectors. 

Clare was born in Motherwell and raised in Wishaw. She studied Computer Information Systems at Glasgow Caledonian University, graduating with a BSc (with distinction), before entering the IT industry where she latterly worked as a European Development Manager at a Glasgow document management firm.  

Clare worked at SNP HQ between 2003 – 2007; leading the development of the SNP’s ‘Activate’ campaign tool as Project Manager. In 2007, Clare was elected to North Lanarkshire Council to represent Wishaw. Clare was then elected to represent Central Scotland at the Scottish Parliament in 2011 before becoming the first ever SNP MSP for Motherwell & Wishaw in 2016.


Grants for Carers

You can apply for up to a maximum of £1000/year to assist with additional financial costs that you incur for care usually provided by you whilst you attend a chemistry related meeting, conference or workshop or a professional development event.
Caring responsibilities are wide and varied, and so each application will be individually assessed, examples of applications that we will consider include:
  • paying for extra home help or nursing care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • additional medical/respite care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • travel expenses for a relative to travel with you to care for dependents whilst you attend a meeting or event
  • paying for extended hours with a care worker/childminder/play scheme to cover time when you will arrive home later than normal.
You are eligible to apply if:
  • you are a chemist
  • you will incur additional caring expenses whilst attending a chemistry-related meeting, conference, event or workshop or a professional development event
  • you will use these funds to cover the cost of care that you usually provide
  • you are based in the UK or Ireland or if not, you will normally have held three years RSC membership (past or current).
These grants for carers have been introduced following the Royal Society of Chemistry Breaking the barriers report where 78% of chemists working in UK academia felt that managing parenting and/or caring responsibilities has an impact on women’s retention and progression. This fund is not limited to women scientists and welcomes applications from anyone with caring responsibilities.
These grants have been supported by The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemists’ Community Fund.
Dynamic Earth

Dynamic Earth, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS, United Kingdom

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