Schru00f6dinger Scholars and Centre for Environmental Policy Postgraduate students exhibition

For The Good Science Project‘s second Friday Forum we’ll consider what it means to be both scientist and citizen, with particular focus on climate science.


12.30-13.00 – panellists and attendees arrive for an informal lunch (sandwiches and refreshments provided)

13.00-14.00 – brief introduction by Claudia Cannon. Followed by a panel discussion, chaired by Claudia Cannon and Stephen Webster, and an open, discursive conversation with attendees

Discussion points

  • In contemporary research culture, how important is it for scientists to be active in the community? What are the options?
  • What happens when the nature of your research, for example on climate change, biodiversity or air quality, seems to necessitate urgent political action? What are the issues of a scientist being ‘an activist’?
  • Furthermore, what are the forms of activism? Could it be policy work, science communication or other things too?
  • And with ’the impact agenda’ so important to research finance, what is the role of the contemplative scientist, who has no desire to move beyond the boundaries of the laboratory? Can one ever say: ‘My data does the talking, not me’?
  • Illuminating why the state of the planet may indeed require our committed action, the poet Nick Drake also gives his perspective.


Tilly Collins (Senior Teaching Fellow, Centre for Environmental Policy)

Tilly Collins is a Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London. 

She has diverse research interests with the common theme of using well-gathered data and stakeholder engagement to advise sustainable systems and support decision-making. Her work covers wine, trees, insects and urban greenspaces, especially in the socio-agri-ecological contexts where these can meet. Tilly contributes to teaching strands of sustainability to Imperial’s CEP MSc and PhD students.

Nick Drake (Poet, whose work includes The Farewell Glacier)

Nick Drake is a poet, screenwriter and dramatist. He has published four collections of poetry with Bloodaxe Books. The Man in the White Suit won the Waterstone’s/Forward Prize for Best First Collection. The Farewell Glacier was inspired by a three-week voyage in the Arctic; the poems were recorded for High Arctic, an installation by United Visual Artists at the National Maritime Museum.  Out of Range explores the impact of the climate emergency. 

His play My Name is Chelsea Manning will premiere at the Young Vic in 2024. All the Angels played at the Wanamaker Theatre at the Globe in 2017, text published by Faber. Success for the National Theatre Connections Project was performed in the National’s Olivier Theatre and around the country. 

His most recent film, One Life (co-written with Lucinda Coxon) starring Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham-Carter and Johnny Flynn, will be released later this year. Romulus My Father starring Eric Bana and Kodi Smit McFee won Best Film at the Australian Film Awards.

He has written the librettos for two operas composed by Tansy Davies: Between Worlds (Barbican/ENO, dir Deborah Warner) and Cave (starring Mark Padmore, dir Lucy Davies) which premiered at Printworks in 2018. He wrote the poem/texts for Earth Song, a new choral work for the BBC Singers, and Tipping Points for solo violin and orchestra, both composed by Rachel Portman. 

Message from the Unseen World (2016) is a poem commissioned by United Visual Artists and Future Cities for a permanent public artwork in Paddington Basin dedicated to Alan Turing. 

Peter Knapp (PhD student, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; environmental activist)

Pete Knapp is completing his PhD in air quality, which became an interest after spending 4 years teaching senior school Mathematics in China. Upon returning home, Pete discovered the air in the UK wasn’t as clean as he’d thought. 

Having woken up to the urgency of the climate emergency after engaging with Extinction Rebellion protests in 2019, Pete is now an active member of the group’s scientific community. He created the podcast ‘Tipping Points‘ with the Grantham Institute where he interviews scientists about what tipped them into activism. Following series focused on people becoming activists from different backgrounds and the perspectives of young people and the climate crisis. 

Becky Mawhood (Head of Climate and Environment Hub, House of Commons)

Becky is Head of the Climate and Environment Hub, a new cross-cutting team in Parliament focussed on collaboration (between select committees and research teams), career development opportunities (for policy specialists) and delivering more effective scrutiny (including making better use of external expertise) in the area of climate and environment. The Hub is looking to strengthen Parliament’s links with academia as part of this work.

Previously Becky worked as the BEIS Committee’s Senior Energy and Climate Specialist, and the Senior Energy Researcher in the House of Commons Library. Before joining Parliament she researched low carbon energy policy at Imperial College’s Centre for Environmental Policy, where she also completed an MSc in Environmental Technology.


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