IChemE opens applications for fellowship to brief UK MPs on science and engineering

Article by Amanda Jasi

The fellowship was established in memory of IChemE Fellow Ashok Kumar, following his sudden death in 2010.

ICHEME is accepting applications from final year students and postgraduates for the Ashok Kumar Fellowship, which offers the winner the chance to spend three months at the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) and produce a briefing note for members of parliament (MPs).

Jointly funded by IChemE and the Materials Processing Institute, the Ashok Kumar Fellowship bridges the gap between chemical engineering and parliament, offering students interested in science and technology policy a three-month placement at POST. While at POST, the winner will focus on producing a parliamentary briefing note (POSTnote) for MPs and peers on an emerging science, engineering, or social science topic that is relevant and timely for the UK parliament.

After the placement, the successful candidate will work with IChemE’s Learned Society Committee to share their learnings and knowledge on policy with IChemE members.

The fellowship is open to engineers who are in the final year, or have completed within the past year, an undergraduate Master’s degree in a discipline related to chemical engineering, process engineering, materials science, applied chemistry, or who have equivalent industry experience. This could include conducting a research project on a related topic. Applications will also be accepted from PhD and EngD students conducting research in a related field with permission from their supervisors to suspend their studies for three months.

Applications are open until 23:59 UK time on 25 June 2023. The placement will take place at a suitable time agreed by the successful candidate and POST and is expected to be between November 2023 and May 2024.

Alexandra Meldrum, VP of IChemE’s Learned Society, said: “I would like to encourage chemical engineers with an interest in understanding how our profession can make a positive contribution to shaping UK policy to seriously consider applying for the Ashok Kumar Fellowship. This is a fantastic opportunity to get first-hand experience working within UK parliament and share your learnings from this fellowship experience with other IChemE members.”

The fellowship was established in 2010, in memory of IChemE Fellow Ashok Kumar. At the time of his sudden death that year he was the Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East and the only chartered chemical engineer in the UK House of Commons.

Jon Bolton, executive chairman of the Materials Processing Institute, said: “Just as Ashok Kumar was a pioneering engineer in politics, so through this fellowship we are fostering a greater understanding between scientific experts and political decision makers. All of the major societal challenges of this century, from climate change, to artificial intelligence, to pandemic response, require a deft combination of science, engineering, and public policy. Ashok Kumar fellows have the opportunity to make their contribution to this important aspect of public service.”

Lydia Harriss, senior physical sciences adviser at POST, said: “The fellows that join us at POST, through the Ashok Kumar Fellowship and other schemes, make a crucial contribution to our work programme. Applying their scientific knowledge, research, writing, and analysis skills, they produce impartial, accurate and accessible briefings on some of today’s most pressing public policy issues. Fellows gain experience of writing for a policy audience and engaging with a wide range of stakeholders, while developing a unique insight into the UK parliament.”

For more information and to apply, visit: https://www.icheme.org/ashok

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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