Scientist Meets Parliament - Dr Richard Mills

23 March 2018
2018 Science meets Parliament in Canberra is the chance for researchers to showcase the importance of STEM
Dr Richard Mills, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Queensland's Cardiac Regeneration Laboratory, attended the 2018 Science meets Parliament. This event is designed to bring together decision makers and Australia's leading STEM professionals, to promote the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics - and the valuable part these sectors can play in politics. Read about Richard's experience.

I recently had the opportunity to attend Science meets Parliament (SmP) meeting in Canberra. SmP is an annual event by Science and Technology Australia that aims to build understanding between federal parliamentarians and those working in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

This year the meeting was attended by more than 200 STEM professionals to discuss the future direction of science and recognise the importance of science to Australia economically, socially and environmentally. 

On Day One we heard from the leaders in Australian science, including Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel and CSIRO Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall, who shared their insights into policy, media, science and technology, politics and lobbying. The day concluded with a Gala Dinner in the great hall of Parliament, where the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, and the Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Michaelia Cash, gave their vision for the STEM sectors.

On Day Two, I had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with parliamentarians and share their enthusiasm for science in discussing pressing issues in STEM. I explored the necessity for a long term science vision (10 yrs plus) including the importance of funding basic, non-applied research, gender equality in STEM, and the significance of early maths education for STEM disciplines.

Day Two also allowed delegates to attend the National Press Club Address by Professor Emma Johnston (President of Science & Technology Australia) and a particularly heated Question Time (thanks to MP Barnaby Joyce’s exploits!). 

Overall, SmP was an interesting, and valuable opportunity, which gave great insight into science communication and how to engage with parliamentarians. I wholeheartedly thank the Australian Physiological Society for supporting my attendance.

Dr Richard Mills is an Early Career Researcher with Stem Cells Australia, a member of Science and Technology Australia

AuPS representative Richard Mills (far right) with MP Susan Lamb (second from left). Credit: Science meets Parliament 2018: Photo by Mark Graham.