Students invited to apply for Fellowship to brief UK Members of Parliament

Article by Adam Duckett

STUDENTS who are interested in science and technology policy are invited to apply for the Ashok Kumar Fellowship. The winner will take up a three-month placement with the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) and produce a briefing note for Members of Parliament.

Jointly funded by IChemE and the Materials Processing Institute, the fellowship provides a three-month placement to research and write a briefing note on a science and technology topic. Previous fellows have included Amber Keegan who is currently working on a note about cyber conflict, and Jeni Spragg who briefed MPs on chemical weapons. After the placement, the winner works with IChemE’s Learned Society Committee to share what they have learned 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 18 April 2022.

Alexandra Meldrum, IChemE Vice President Learned Society, said: “If you’re a chemical engineer, with an interest in understanding how chemical engineers can make a positive contribution to shaping UK science policy, then I’d strongly encourage you to apply for the Ashok Kumar Fellowship. You’ll get a first-hand experience working alongside parliamentarians and policymakers. This is a fantastic opportunity and a great chance to share your learnings from the experience with 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.

Chris McDonald, CEO 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.”

McDonald, who is a chemical engineer and IChemE Fellow, spoke earlier this year about his own career path and the importance he places in having the skills to engage with policymakers to help them make good strategic funding decisions.

Lydia Harriss, Senior Physical Sciences Adviser at POST, said: “The Ashok Kumar Fellowship makes a key contribution to POST’s work programme and forms an important bridge between Parliament and the chemical and process engineering communities. Our talented Fellows have brought their research, writing and analysis skills to bear on a range of POST briefings over the years. They in turn have gained experience of writing impartially for a policy audience and engaging with diverse stakeholders, while developing a unique insight into the UK Parliament.”

For more information and to apply, visit:

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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