Science and the Senedd/Gwyddoniaeth a’r Senedd

22 September 2020 17:00-18:30, United Kingdom


Online event

Following the Royal Society of Chemistry’s subsequent decision not to hold events for the remainder of this year, Science and the Senedd will now take the form of a webinar on Tuesday, 22nd September from 5.00pm to 6.30pm.

If you have any questions please contact us at

Designed to foster close relations with the Welsh Parliament and the Welsh Government, Science and the Senedd is organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry, on behalf of, and in cooperation with, the Welsh science and engineering community.

The theme will be: ‘Climate Science, Sustainability….and Covid-19’


Professor Mary Gagen, Swansea University
Teaching sustainable science, teaching science sustainably: lessons from the Swansea University Science for School’s Scheme.
We introduce Swansea University Science for Schools Scheme (S4), part of the pan Wales Trio Sci Cymru programme, and its approach to teaching sustainability, and climate change awareness, through a broad STEM outreach programme. We explore how focusing on the cross-cutting themes of environmental awareness, the objectives of Wales’ Future Generations act and new curriculum proposals, allows a methodological framework to emerge for delivering impactful, equity-facing outreach in Wales.  Delivering university-led STEM outreach to students from underserved backgrounds, S4 translated science-capital theory to Wales’ unique socio-economic context via three pillars - science confidence, science capability and science citizenship. We discuss lessons from S4 and what further work needs to be done to add important geographical perspectives to science capital practice in Wales.

Mary Gagen, Swansea University, United Kingdom

Mary Gagen is a Professor of Geography at Swansea University. Mary is a climate change scientist and her research focuses on the climate records stored in the rings of ancient trees, on exploring how environmental change is impacting forests and on climate science communication. A keen outreach scientist, Mary is a National Geographic Explorer. Along with Swansea physicist Dr Will Bryan she co-runs Swansea University’s Science for Schools Scheme, and regularly delivering public outreach talks, workshops and events.

Christine Wheeler, Welsh Government lead for Climate Change and Energy, United Kingdom

Christine Wheeler is the Welsh Government lead for Climate Change and Energy. Her remit includes climate mitigation, adaptation, clean growth, policy for fossil fuels and renewables as well as delivery of both an ambitious public sector decarbonisation programme and the Welsh Government Warm Homes scheme to tackle fuel poverty. She is also the Welsh Government lead for COP 26. Chris joined the Welsh Government in October 2019 after a decade of working for Government across the border in England, primarily for the Ministry of Defence but including a two year secondment to KPMG. Before that, Chris worked for AstraZeneca as a process chemist following her MChem from Durham University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors in the beautiful Welsh countryside.

Richard Lucas, Sêr Cymru Research Chair, Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom

Professor Richard Lucas holds a Sêr Cymru Research Chair within the Earth Observation and Ecosystem Dynamics (EOED) Research Group, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences (DGES), Aberystwyth University.  He has also held positions at the University of New South Wales Australia, the Australian Federal Government and Swansea University (UK). He has over 30 years of experience in quantifying and understanding the response of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems and environments to change (including that associated with climatic variation), through integration of Earth observation data.  Major achievements have included the development and implementation of methods for local to global characterisation, mapping and monitoring of land cover and change and forest (including mangrove) extent, biomass and structural attributes.  He currently leads the Living Wales project, which is providing a new approach to monitoring landscapes, in Wales and internationally, to support sustainable use of environments and reversal of ecosystem loss and degradation. He studied Biology and Geography (1983-1986) at the University of Bristol, where he also obtained his doctorate (1986-1989) and, in 2017, completed an Advanced Diploma in Leadership and Management from the Australian Institute of Management, Sydney.

Geertje van Keulen, Swansea University, United Kingdom

Dr Geertje Van Keulen is Associate Professor in Microbial Biochemistry in the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University. She leads interdisciplinary research and innovation teams with microbiology at its core, expanding understanding into and sustainably exploiting the chemical and material properties of microbes in living, manufactured and natural (soil) environments. Her research links antibiotics, water repellency and materials, thereby switching focus between microbial to manufactured to soils with insights generated in one discipline quickly applied to another, and back, for generating step changes in knowledge and sustainable innovation.
She currently leads the Soil Health Advisory Group as part of the Microbiology Society’s ‘A Sustainable Future’ policy development in which the role of microbiology in achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals is evaluated and promoted. Restoring and maintaining healthy soils are essential for the global food system and regulate water, carbon and nitrogen cycles but are put under pressure from population growth and climate change. Geertje will discuss the recommendations of recently held Soil Health workshops, in which stakeholders from Wales, the UK and the Republic of Ireland active in research and innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, industry, farming, land management, social, regulatory and political institutions discussed the future of sustainable management of healthy soils.

Davey L Jones, Bangor University, United Kingdom

Davey Jones holds a Professorial Chair in Soil and Environmental Science at Bangor University and a Professorial Chair position at the University of Western Australia.  A major focus of his research is on understanding below-ground processes with specific focus on nutrients and human pathogen behaviour in water-food-soil-plant-microbial systems. Current applications of this work include (1) the implementation of strategies for controlling SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and other viral pathogens in urban, agricultural, freshwater and marine ecosystems, (2) promoting carbon sequestration in agricultural systems and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, (3) developing ways to improve nutrient use efficiency in cropping systems, and (4) determining the impact of microplastics in soil and freshwater environments. He has published more than 480 scientific journal articles and has advised government on both their waste and climate change policies. His research is mainly funded via NERC, BBSRC, Welsh Government, Defra and the European Union. He also collaborates with industry to deliver novel solutions to environmental problems and improve product sustainability.

Paul Lewis, Royal Society of Chemistry, United Kingdom

Paul is Deputy Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry overseeing an international STM journals, books and data publishing business with supporting technology and, sales & marketing teams operating from six international hubs. He also has a wider organisational leadership role, developing RSC strategy and capabilities as well as representing the RSC in the UK and overseas to a broad range of stakeholders from RSC members to government ministers.  He has substantial senior leadership experience in the Education, Skills and STM publishing sectors including senior roles at City & Guilds, PA Consulting and the University of Cambridge.

Nick Ramsay MS , Welsh Parliament, United Kingdom

Born in 1975, and originally from Cwmbran, Nick was educated at Croesyceiliog Comprehensive School.  He went on to study at Durham and Cardiff Universities.  After a spell in the private sector and working as a political advisor, Nick was elected to Monmouthshire County Council in 2004 for the ward of Mardy near Abergavenny.  In his role as a local councillor, Nick was involved in numerous campaigns supporting residents and standing up for local people.
Nick was first elected to the Welsh Assembly (now the Welsh Parliament) in 2007 and has since held the most senior shadow ministerial portfolios including Local Government, Business and Health.  Nick is currently the Shadow Finance Minister and chairs the influential Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises expenditure by the Labour-run Welsh Government and other public bodies in Wales.
Nick was re-elected by the people of Monmouth in May 2016 with a majority of over 5,000 votes.  Nick has run numerous successful campaigns including to save Monmouthshire from abolition and has fought alongside local residents for a Cancer Patients' Fund for Wales to end the postcode lottery in access to life-extending cancer drugs.

Peter Knowles FRSC, Cardiff University, United Kingdom

Peter Knowles is Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at Cardiff University, where he has been since 2004, including a period as Head of School (2009-2013). He previously held a chair at the University of Birmingham (1995-2004), a lectureship at the University of Sussex (1989-95), and an SERC Advanced Research Fellowship at the University of Cambridge (1987-89).

His Cambridge PhD was followed by postdoctoral work in Cambridge and at the University of Western Ontario.

Peter’s scientific interests are in calculating from first principles the quantum electronic structure of molecules, in order to provide quantitative predictions of structure, bonding, properties and reactivity of molecular matter. He has contributed to the development of many of the standard methods of computational quantum chemistry, and is a lead author of the widely-used Molpro software package. His research has been recognised through the award of the Royal Society of Chemistry Harrison, Marlow and Computational Chemistry awards. He is currently a member of the Council of the RSC.

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