The Symposium for Biological and Life Science Students (SymBLS) is an annual event for postgraduate students from the life science institutes and departments at the University of Cambridge. The symposium is a venue for students to present and discuss their research with peers from across the University.
2012 keynote speakers were Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome trust; Doug Kell, Chief Exceutive of BBSRC; and James Wilsdon, Professor of Science and Democracy (SPRU- Science and technology policy research).
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The symposium opened with a great talk from James Wilsdon, professor of science and democracy at SPRU, who introduced the audience to the world of science and policy providing both ideas and practical solutions for graduates who want to engage further in the policy process.
The day continued with great talks by students from across the biological and life sciences. Between the talks there were poster sessions where participants were able not only to present their data to other students but also to the speakers and members of business and government. These sessions were very engaging and highly valuable to both the graduates and policy makers who both took away a greater appreciation for work of the other. The graduate students immensely enjoyed having the opportunity to present their work to an engaged, less specialised audience from government and to be exposed to a completely different way of thinking.
The second keynote speaker, Douglas Kell talked about his role as the head of the BBSRC and the importance of questioning preconceived ideas so as not to rely on unsupported established facts- a vital philosophy for both science and policy alike.
Sir Mark Walport ended the one day symposium with a very well received talk on the amazing advancement in science and technology, the future of funding from the Wellcome trust for the researches at all levels, the myriad of opportunities that are available to early career researches as well as policy, open access journals and his future position as the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser.
Discussions continued well into the night with the wine reception and networking followed by a dinner for the graduate speakers, keynotes and members of government.
This was a very successful event from all sides and one which would be wonderful to replicate and improve upon in the future.