Often in the field of science, we discuss the importance of translating our knowledge into policy. The natural world supports our industry, growth, and innovation as a society; while effective legislation is aimed to protect these resources. Connecting the fields of science and policy is essential in ensuring that we are meeting not only our needs today but facilitating future generation’s ability to meet their needs. The importance of these interactions is not lost on the University of St. Andrews. By giving their students extracurricular opportunities to engage in a scientific and policy integration driven workshop, the university is promoting a more inclusive approach to science and policy.
On November 20th, 2019 St. Andrews Master’s students from Marine Ecosystem Management, Marine Mammal Science, and Animal Behaviour attended a policy and advice workshop hosted by the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage. The workshop gave students the opportunity to learn about how marine features are prioritized in policy, operating community led monitoring projects, and were given the opportunity to network with staff from different organizations during a coffee break (with delicious cookies). Additionally, students were informed of dissertation projects and PhD placements available through Scottish Natural Heritage.
All of the activities were collaboration based and allowed students to engage with industry professionals and other workshop attendees. Professionals provided every group with feedback and it became quickly apparent that cooperation was key to forming effective ideas and approaches to science integration. The favourite group activity (partially because it involved bubbles and party poppers) was hosted by Dr Cass Bromley, showing the effectiveness of broadcast spawning utilized by native oysters in Scottish waters. Students left the conference feeling motivated and excited about their new insight into how research being conducted by Scottish Natural Heritage is being applied improve conservation techniques in Scotland. The workshop ended with just enough time for students to enjoy an ice cream before hopping back on the bus to St. Andrews.
Written by Elaine Alberts (MEM)