Institute of Food Research student presenting to Parliament

11th March 2014

Ian Wood in The Biorefinery Centre

Ian Wood in The Biorefinery Centre

Ian Wood, 26, a PhD student at The Institute of Food Research, Norwich, is attending Parliament to present his science to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges, as part of SET for Britain on Monday 17 March.

Ian’s poster is on research into using oilseed rape straw for bioethanol production, and will be judged against dozens of other scientists’ research in the only national competition of its kind.

Ian was shortlisted from hundreds of applicants to appear in Parliament.

On presenting his science in Parliament, he said, “SET for Britain is an excellent opportunity to showcase some of the cutting edge science being conducted here, on the Norwich Research Park.”

Ian’s study is part of a larger programme of research at the Biorefinery Centre at Institute of Food Research, which is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. This is aimed at turning waste material from  farming and food processing into biofuels and other useful compounds.  As well as reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill, this can reduce the carbon footprint of food production and also make it more economically sustainable.

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, said, “This annual competition is an important date in the parliamentary calendar because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers.

“These early career engineers, mathematicians and scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

Ian’s research has been entered into the Biological and Biomedical Sciences session of the competition, which will end in a gold, silver and bronze prize-giving ceremony.

Judged by leading academics, the gold medallist receives £3,000, while silver and bronze receive £2,000 and £1,000 respectively.

John Pierce, Chief Bioscientist at BP, sponsors of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences award, said, “BP remains a committed supporter of SET for Britain. Each year we look forward to seeing examples of outstanding science and engineering from our next generation of scientists in the UK.

“As a biologist, I think it’s great that BP is sponsoring the Biological and Biomedical Sciences award again. In the energy sector, and other industries, biology is playing an increasingly important role.

“The future of science, engineering and technology in the UK is both challenging and exciting. As a major UK recruiter and investor in research and development, we believe it is essential to nurture the best technical talent.”

Philip Wright, CEO of The Physiological Society, said, “The UK has an excellent biomedical research base that is underpinned by our strength in physiology. SET for Britain provides a unique opportunity for our representatives in parliament to see the fruits of the UK’s research spend first hand, and the enthusiasm and drive of these up-coming scientists.”

Dr Mark Downs, chief executive of the Society of Biology, says: “Scientists and politicians both have major roles in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges, from climate change to food security. SET for Britain is a rare opportunity for politicians to meet some of our most promising young scientists and understand their work.

“It is important that MPs make policy decisions informed by evidence, and a greater mutual understanding between MPs and scientists will improve this.”

The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee run the event in collaboration with the Council for the Mathematical Sciences, the Institute of Physics, The Physiological Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Biology and the Society of Chemical Industry, with financial support from BP, the Clay Mathematics Institute, Essar, INEOS, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Germains Seed Technology, Boeing, the Bank of England and the Institute of Biomedical Science.