On 3 March 2020, members of the bioscience community gathered at the Science Museum in London to celebrate the Royal Society of Biology’s (RSB) 10th Anniversary. Marking key achievements over the last decade, the RSB’s Anniversary Gala Dinner represented the chance to network with the best and brightest in the field as well as hear from inspirational speakers, including Sir David Attenborough, who was presented with the RSB’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.
As a key supporter of the RSB over the past 10 years, the Biochemical Society hosted a table at the event and we took the opportunity to promote and inspire the next wave of emerging bioscientists, offering six seats for our Early Career members to join the celebrations.
As Sir David Attenborough referenced in his speech, younger generations are vital to driving developments in the field and beyond. The importance of keeping those in positions of power fully informed—about the latest findings, research, and understanding of the global challenges we’re collectively facing—has always been a powerful message; its poignancy has only increased over the last few months as the world comes to terms with the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Taking place prior to the UK’s lockdown, the event bore witness to a ‘no handshake’ policy; and some light relief was offered in the form of their President’s choreographed routine when welcoming award winners onto the stage—elbow bumps and hip shimmies included.
We’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate the past 10 years of collaboration. From the RSB’s inception in 2009, our organizations have worked together on a number of successful projects, maximizing our combined impact in the sector. Educational resources, support for students, teachers and HE educators, public engagement activities, science policy work, a co-owned journal are just a few of our collaborative highlights over the past decade.
The RSB have been a long standing partner in delivering our public engagement work; we participate in five science festivals each year with the RSB Outreach and Engagement Working Group, enabling us to reach wider audiences. Collaborative public engagement activities have also included ‘The Hungry Games’ (also in partnership with the Nutrition Society) and ‘21st Century BioChallenges Kits’, the latter of which continues to provide activities on key topics for under and over 12s.
We’ve also co-organised the Royal Institute Debate during Biology Week each October. The debate in 2019, entitled ‘Marine plastics: Is it too late to save our oceans?’, considered whether it’s possible to reverse the damage already done by dumping plastics. Speakers included CEO and Founder of Just One Ocean, David Jones, professional diver, underwater photographer and technical media diving specialist, and Dr Pennie Lindeque, whose research investigates the impact of microplastics on marine biota, among others. The event showcased the important and amazing work bioscientists are doing and involved everyone from children to professional biologists.
For the last eight years, the RSB have organised the Voice of the Future event on behalf of the science and engineering community. Representing a special kind of science Question Time, the event offers members from relevant learned societies, including Student and Early Career members of the Biochemical Society, the chance to pitch questions to the leading figures dealing with science-related issues in Parliament and Government. Practicing scientists are able to take part in a Select Committee style session, grilling MPs on the science policy issues that matter to them.
As an Enhanced Funder and Strategic Partner for the RSB, closer collaboration has also taken place in the area of science policy through the sharing of resources. The additional financial support from the Biochemical Society and other Strategic Partners of Dr Stephen Benn’s work, Director of Parliamentary Affairs, has enabled the RSB to run a variety of major Parliamentary engagement events for the science community. Through this unifying voice, the Biochemical Society has been able to channel the views and expertise of the molecular bioscience community, feeding into important consultations on reforms to A-Levels and GCSEs, the Teaching Excellence Framework, the impact of Brexit on Higher Education and research, the potential impact of immigration reforms, and many more.
A journal for the life sciences
In 2016, we also launched Emerging Topics in Life Sciences, our co-owned journal of themed issues guest-edited by leading experts. Previous issues covered rare diseases, climate change, CRISPR, big data, synthetic biology, and bioethics.
Focussing on the latest advances in the field, a special 10th anniversary issue is scheduled for publication later this year (Autumn 2020) and will bring together key developments from the past decade. Emerging topics that might frame the next 10 years of life science research will equally be considered, including our understanding of age-related disorders, the credibility crisis in research, and reducing the environmental footprint of food crops.
Working in partnership with the RSB, the Biochemical Society has ensured the voice of the biosciences community has been heard at the highest level. Congratulations to them on 10 years of amazing work and we look forward to many more productive collaborations in the years to come.
About the author:
John Doddy is the Community Engagement Manager at the Biochemical Society.