Sci & Tech Select Committee 18Mar11

Grassroots science campaign is back—and calling for front-line researchers to tell MPs the impact of funding cuts

Science is Vital, the grassroots online group which spearheaded last autumn’s mobilization of scientists across the country in an effort to protect science funding, is back with a new campaign.

The group has emailed researchers to ask them to tell the Science and Technology Select Committee Enquiry how the 2011-2015 comprehensive spending review is affecting them at the front-line of science and engineering.

Science is Vital founder and chair Dr Jenny Rohn, a postdoc researcher at University College London, said, “Over 35,000 scientists, researchers and their allies signed up to our Campaign to protect science funding from major cuts in the spending review, and it is clear that had an impact. Now we want to ensure we can harness that passion and goodwill to make sure the government knows that we are watching.”

The Science is Vital website at http://scienceisvital.org.uk/ helps scientists make submissions to the select Committee. Submissions can be made up until *27th April*, and the hope is that Parliament will hear the experience of a wide range of scientists for the first time, rather than just listening to the views of senior scientists and heads of institutions.

Vice-Chair Professor Stephen Curry of Imperial College said, “The job of the Select Committee is to find out what is going on and make recommendations to the Government on policy and spending questions. We think it is incumbent on research workers to tell Parliament what is going on at the coal-face.”

The group expects to work closely with the Campaign for Science and Engineering, and support them in their policy work at higher levels.

“There is clearly a role for a volunteer-led grass-roots coordinating movement that can use the internet and social media to reach ordinary scientists working extraordinarily hard in difficult circumstances, and helping their voices to be heard,” added Science is Vital Vice-Chair, Dr Evan Harris. “We also expect to campaign on science careers and want to hear from our supporters what our next campaigns should be.”

Notes to editors:

1. Science is Vital is a volunteer-run non-partisan organisation whose aim is to harness the views of the scientific community to promote the value of science and the interests of scientists to policy makers.

2. Originally set up last September after a call to action from Dr Jenny Rohn on her blog at http://occamstypewriter.org/mindthegap/, the group’s petition attracted over 35,000 signatures by the time of the Comprehensive Spending Review on 20th October 2010. The campaign to protect science spending culminated in a lobby of Parliament and a demonstration by several thousand researchers and their families outside the Treasury in the run up to the spending review announcement.

3. More details at http://scienceisvital.org.uk/ or contact SiV Chair, Dr Jenny Rohn: jenny@scienceisvital.org.uk


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