Summer research across the divide

Anabel (centre) presents her findings to a group at the Department of the Environment. Prudence is on her left with the Director of the Science Partnerships Section, Dave Johnson, on her right. Anabel made the point that there appears to be little incentive to share information between the science and policy sectors.

Anabel (centre) presents her findings to a group at the Department of the Environment. Prudence is on her left with the Director of the Science Partnerships Section, Dave Johnson, on her right. Anabel made
the point that there appears to be little incentive to share information between the science and policy sectors.

How can science better engage with policy? It’s an enduring, seemingly intractable problem. Both sides – scientists and policy people – want a better more productive engagement but all too often it fails to happen. NERP ED wondered if we couldn’t throw a bit of light on this issue by getting undergraduate summer students to work on different policy areas within the Department of the Environment at the end of each year (over the summer break). With the help of the Science Partnerships Section (managers of the NERP Program), opportunities were identified in the Department of the Environment with NERP ED identifying and then mentoring summer scholars to work on the challenges.

At the end of 2012 the summer scholars were Anabel Lusk (from Canterbury University, NZ) and Prudence Roberts (from Macquarie University). They set out to better understand this thing called science-informed policy. Anabel looked at the science of how we measure the impact of invasive species while Prudence looked at how science fed into development approval on cassowary habitat.

Their investigations were so well received by the Department of the Environment that the scheme continued with new students in the summer periods of 2012/13 and 2013/14.

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