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Ecology researchers unite at Harper Adams

Posted 26 November 2014

Dr Randall (L) presents Dr Graceson with her prize for producing the best poster

UK students and early career researchers with an interest in agricultural ecology came together to learn about policy, at a special training day at Harper Adams University, recently.

The British Ecological Society (BES) Agricultural Ecology Special Interest Group held the event to explain the policy making process and how to effectively communicate with policy makers.

Adriana De Palma, a PhD student from Imperial College, shared her experience of preparing Westminster events and policy briefs whilst on placement in the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology. Ceri Margerison from the BES told students how they could become involved in similar schemes themselves.

As well as the invited speakers, the delegates were given an opportunity to present their own research through talks, or with project posters, which were designed for a policy audience and judged on their ability to appeal to a non-specialist audience.

The winning poster, created by Dr Abigail Graceson, explained her research on soil biodiversity in agriculture.

Dr Nicola Randall from the Centre for Evidence-Based Agriculture at Harper Adams led the afternoon session on translating scientific research papers into policy summaries. Nicola, who also helped to coordinate the event, said: “We were delighted to welcome students and early career researchers from a range of institutions across the UK.

“Often a challenge for those working within research is how to convey technical information to a non-specialist audience, and in this case, policy makers.

“Dr Graceson’s poster was clear and concise with useful imagery, and her poster was chosen as the winner for this reason.”

Postgraduate research student Fran Sconce helped to organise the event. She said: “I came away from the day with new contacts in agricultural ecology and a new perspective on where our scientific research fits in to policy making – it being one part of a complex and lengthy but important process.”

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