The Cambridge Science and Policy Forum: Data

CUSPE is delighted to announce the details of our annual conference, The Cambridge Science Science and Policy Forum, which will focus on all things data.

The afternoon will be split into two halves:

First, we will consider the question: ‘how should big data be regulated?’. Dr Jeni Tennison, founder of Connected By Data and former CEO of the Open Data Institute, will give a keynote talk, which will be followed by a panel discussion. Panellists will include Professor David Leslie, Director of Ethics and Responsible Innovation Research at the Alan Turing Institute, and Michael Birtwistle, Associate Director of AI and data law at the Ada Lovelace Institute.

We will then go on to discuss: ‘how can data be used to create better policy?’. The keynote speaker for this question will be Professor Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy and co-director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, and our panellists include Professor Sir Ian Diamond, National Statistician for the United Kingdom.

Refreshments will be provided throughout the afternoon, and attendees are encouraged to stay for a drinks reception and networking afterwards
Registration is of course free as ever!

Date: Tuesday 2nd May
Location: Queen’s College
Time: 14:00-18:00
Register here:

Event Summary

This year, the CUSPE Annual Forum took place on the 2nd of May at Queens’ College, University of Cambridge. The forum was organized by our forum team: Harry Dunn (team leader), Elizabeth Knight (team member) and Dr Ariadna Albajara Sáenz (team member). The theme this year was “Data”, chosen due to the interconnectedness between policy and data. Research findings are used to inform and shape policies. However, the process of translating evidence into policy continues to be complex.  In addition, the rapid rise of big data brings enormous benefits for our society but also poses multiple challenges, demanding improved data regulations.

The forum revolved around two subthemes: “How should big data be regulated?” and “How can data be used to create better policy?”.

The first session focused on “How should big data be regulated?” and started with a presentation by our keynote speaker Dr Jeni Tenison (Executive Director of Connected by Data and former CEO of the Open Data Institute). This was followed by a panel discussion with Dr Mahlet Zimeta (Digital Expert for the Competition and Markets Authority and former Head of Public Policy at the Open Data Institute), Professor David Leslie (Director of Ethics and Responsible Innovation Research at The Alan Turing Institute), Michael Birtwistle (Associate Director of AI Law and Regulation at the Ada Lovelace Institute) and Dr Jeni Tenison. Key topics discussed included: the private sector’s treatment of personal data, the use of personal data for political purposes, surveillance and monitoring, algorithmic biases, and privacy concerns. The panel was chaired by Harry Dunn.

The second session focused on “How can data be used to create better policy?” and started with a talk from our second keynote speaker, Professor Diane Coyle (Professor of Public Policy and Co-Director of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy). This was followed by a panel discussion with Professor Sir Ian Diamond (UK’s national statistician), Elena Rosa Brown (Research Leader at RAND Europe), Rob Anderson (Head of Implementation and Policy at the Centre for Homelessness Impact) and Professor Diane Coyle. Speakers discussed the importance of employing rigorous research methods, diversifying data sources, balancing quantitative and qualitative data, effectively communicating research findings, and engaging with stakeholders and policymakers. The panel was chaired by Dr Ariadna Albajara Sáenz.

We thank our speakers for their valuable time and a stimulating discussion!

Summary by Ariadna Albajara

2023 Careers in Science and Policy Workshop

Date: Tuesday March 14th
Location: Christs’ College, Yusuf Hamied Theatre

Chris Richards – Policy Director at Institute of Civil Engineers, with experience in communication and environmental policy

Dr Amy Munro-Faure – Engagement Manager at Cambridge Zero, interested in connection between research and operation sustainability, with a PhD in evolutionary biology and research in conservation.

Dr Julian Huppert – Director of the Intellectual Forum at Jesus College, previously Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge. Julian trained as a scientist at Trinity College, Cambridge, and has Master’s degree on Public Policy and will provide insight on general public policy landscape

Dr Hayley Clissold – Research Culture Lead, Director’s Office at the Sanger Institute, with an experience of being an Science policy intern at the Academy of Medical Sciences and Wellcome after Biochemistry Bsc undergraduate.

Beka Kimberley – University of Cambridge Career Consultant, will give us a presentation on deciding what role would suit them best, finding opportunities, creating effective applications, and understanding the policy landscape.

This workshop aims to share career tips and necessary skills for students and early-career researchers who are considering careers in science and policy. This will be an interactive session, including plenty of time for Q&A.

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“Peak Digital: AI, Decomputerisation, and Life After Big Tech”

Advances in artificial intelligence from AlphaFold to the recent phenomena of DALL-E and ChatGPT make it clear the field of AI is moving at an ever-accelerating pace. There is little doubt AI will have diverse applications in industry, healthcare, education and military contexts, as well as many other fields. Ethics professor and New York Times best-selling author Jonnie Penn will be discussing with us how we can keep up with developments in AI and ensure that these technologies are being employed and regulated according to fair, just, and egalitarian principles, and how work into democratic decision-making can help to inform policymakers.

Date: Thursday 16th February
Time: 19:00-20:00
Location: Bowett Room, Queens’ College
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Event Summary

On Thursday 16 February, we had the pleasure of welcoming speaker Dr Jonnie Penn, technology historian and number one New York Times bestselling author.

Dr Penn presented a stimulating lecture on what he has titled ‘the age of care’, and what he also refer to as a movement towards ‘de-computerisation’ or ‘de-digitalisation’. In this lecture, Dr Penn discussed the choice that society has for its reliance on Artificial Intelligence – we were challenged to think beyond the default position of AI as a constant in our everyday lives.

This lectured covered some of the thorny questions that AI poses for policymakers and broader society, both now and increasingly as it expands in the future. A few of these issues include environmental impact, destabilisation of traditional work, and the shifting nature of how we spend our leisure time.

Dr Penn provided an overview of the history of AI in comparison to materialist history. This grounded our further discussion on how it is impacting our current lives. The room was left with some thought-provoking questions, including ‘will the log-off movement gain traction?’ and ‘is developing AI a waste of smart peoples’ time and resources?’

We thank Dr Penn for his time and for such a fabulous discussion!

Summary by Genevieve Marsh

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UK Environmental Policy Workshop

Join Andy Jordan, Professor of Environmental Policy in the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA where he will be sharing his expertise in a workshop centred around environmental policy especially in the context of the UK post-Brexit

Professor Jordan is the author of several books on the European Union’s environmental policy making, including The Tools of Policy Formulation. He has advised the OECD, the UK Cabinet Office, DEFRA, the European Commission, WWF and the RSPB.

In 2015-16 he advised the UK Parliamentary environmental audit committee inquiry on the EU referendum and in 2016-20 served on the Scientific Committee of the European Environment Agency. He currently sits on DEFRA’s Science Advisory Council: Social Science Expert Group.

Date: Tuesday 22nd November
Time: 17:15-18:30
Location: Z Basement Amenity Room, Christ’s College
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Event Summary

On Wednesday 22 November, Professor Andy Jordan delivered an engaging talk about the UK and environmental policy. The talk focused on the UK’s position as an environmental policy actor, particularly in the wake of Brexit. Some key topics he discussed included: the EU approach to environmental policy, its development and maturation; a brief history of UK policy development alongside the EU through the 1990s and early 2000s; post-Brexit cooperation with the EU and new areas of potential cooperation; potential flash points between EU and UK policy; and how we can understand and measure the UK’s position empirically post-Brexit. Thank you to Andy and to everyone who participated.

Summary by Genevieve Marsh

Policy Writing Workshop

Do you want to learn how to influence policy makers and better explain the significance of your research?

This workshop is perfect for anyone seeking to improve their writing skills. We will learn more about writing to support policy development, covering both what civil servants and ministers expect and how to provide the information they really need. This will be an interactive session, including time for Q&A.

Speaker: Dr Andrew Kaye, Government Office for Science

Andrew Kaye works at the Government Office for Science, where his responsibilities have included coordinating science advice during emergencies – for which he received a MBE in 2022 – and leading projects on emerging technologies and critical infrastructure. Previously he has been a speechwriter for ministers and worked in government communications. After completing a PhD at Cambridge, Andrew taught US history at the Universities of Newcastle and Durham before joining the Civil Service.

Date: 20 October
Time: 17:30-19:00
Location: 16 Mill Lane, the Postdoc Centre Eastwood Room

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2021-2022 Past Events

2022 Careers in Science and Policy Workshop

This workshop aims to share career tips and necessary skills for students and early-career researchers who are considering careers in science and policy. The speakers have diverse backgrounds, from British government departments, Royal Societies, The Academy of Medical Sciences and the University’s Careers service.


Dr Deirdre Black – Head of Research & Innovation, Royal Society of Chemistry

Deirdre oversees RSC’s science policies and programmes, working with scientists and other stakeholders across the research and innovation community, including policymakers and funding agencies. Her work includes horizon-scanning and futures, identifying trends in fundamental science, applications to global and industrial challenges and higher education. Deirdre is a member of the Board of the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry. She has a PhD in theoretical particle physics and held postdoctoral positions in the USA and UK. She also worked at Project 2061, a science education policy unit at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington DC. She joined the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2011.

Dr Helen Ewles – Head of Research & Innovation Policy at the Royal Society of Engineering

Helen oversees the RAEng’s science policies and programmes as well as undertaking a part-time secondment in the new Office for Science and Technology Strategy (OSTS). She was previously a post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge. During her academic career, she undertook a secondment in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) within the Postgraduate Policy team and was a founding member of the Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange (CUSPE). She obtained her PhD in 2011 from Imperial College London.

Dr Alice Fletcher-Etherington – Policy Officer, Academy of Medical Sciences.

Alice works on the delivery of the Academy of Medical Sciences’ UK health policy projects. Her current themes of work include integration of the NHS and academia, COVID-19, antimicrobial resistance, health inequalities and public health reforms. She obtained her PhD in 2021 from the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (CIMR), at the University of Cambridge. During her studies, she was co-president of the Cambridge Branch of Students for Global Health, where she lead a team of 60 students working to tackle global and local health issues through education, advocacy and community action. Alice also participated in CUSPE’s 2020 policy challenges, where she and her team developed a policy report on the effect of local government decision making on the ability of communities to lessen the need for formal health and social care services. She also contributed to the work of the think tank Polygeia with multiple policy reports on the acceleration of vaccine R&D.

Beka Kimberley – Higher Education Careers Consultant, University of Cambridge Careers Service

Beka works for the Careers Service to help members of the university better understand their career options and pathways. She will share tips and advice for students and young researchers considering careers in science and policy and will introduce Careers Service’s resources that could help with skills development and career transitions.

Join us on Thursday 24th March, 18:00 – 19:30 GMT online on Zoom by clicking here:
(Meeting ID: 842 0968 1156, Passcode: psvb@9QzhS)

You can also find the Zoom link via the Eventbrite registration page,
sign up by clicking the button below:

Register here: