Building on relationships formed with three successful student placements last year, STARS Student Sam Reynolds has recently finished a 3-month policy placement in Westminster. The position was within the office of the Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), a small team working to support the CSA which has an internal focus within Defra, and works with the entire Defra group which is made up of over 20 arm’s length bodies such as the environment agency and the rural payments agency.
The role included refreshing the way that science and analysis specialists communicate internally. This involved interviewing science leads across the Defra group and reporting back on the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities identified. A second project involved working with a team investigating what the future of rural land use will look like in England and Wales, and how policy changes will affect this. Whilst carrying out this work there was also opportunity to sit on high level scientific committees which gave a real insight into the work being done at Defra, and how science is incorporated.
The placement was a great opportunity to see how science informs policy, get a working understanding of Defra and make a useful contribution within a 12 week window.