Science policy internship
The Forum takes on Imperial PhD students to support our policy engagement activities as Policy Interns. Internships are paid and ad hoc, and when there is a specific need.
Imperial academic and professional services staff are also welcome to enquire about being seconded to our team.
You can read about some of the experiences of our past interns and secondees below. To express interest in these opportunities, or if you have any questions, please get in touch.
Past Interns and Secondees
Rachel Barton – PhD student, Department of Infectious Disease (April to June 2021)
I joined Imperial in 2017 to do a PhD in immunology of infectious disease. With all the research activity surrounding COVID-19 in my department, I've been really interested in seeing how research output translates to people making decisions in government.
Now in my final year of my PhD, I'm exploring options outside of traditional lab work which maintains a focus on scientific research. With that in mind, I was looking out for opportunities to learn more about how research is communicated to policymakers, what different kind of roles there are within policy and how the skills we learn during a PhD, like writing and research, can be adapted for policy.
Doing the internship with The Forum has been really useful and enjoyable! I've been helping out on a number of different projects, ranging across lots of different departments at Imperial. It's been really refreshing to engage with a much broader range of research than I typically see in my department and it's been great to help out with different aspects of work, including stakeholder research, collating evidence for reports and helping with an article for Imperial News.
Most weeks have been very flexible which allows me to balance The Forum work with my lab work pretty easily. I'd definitely recommend the internship if you're curious about policy!
Emma Hibbett – PhD student, Centre for Environmental Policy (January to March 2021)
I am a PhD student at the Centre for Environmental Policy. My research looks at the ways that crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have shaped whose voices get heard in environmental decision making with my aim to help understand how we can make democracy work better for those who are most affected by crises, as the voices of these communities are often excluded from decision making.
Before joining Imperial, I graduated from the University of Oxford with an MSc in Water Policy, where I developed a passion for helping communities who are fighting on the frontlines of environmental injustice.
During my three months as a Policy Intern with The Forum, I helped to develop the stream of work for the Transition to Zero Pollution initiative. I worked closely with the programme manager to organise events, contact stakeholders, and build connections with external organisations such as the Environment Agency. For this initiative, I developed ideas for the research theme ‘Poverty and Pollution’. I also liaised with journalists, academics, and activists to develop ideas for a roundtable event, community workshop and feature article.
Alongside the Transition to Zero Pollution initiative, I created and edited content for Sustainability Week, developed ideas for how The Forum could build its capacity to connect PhD students with local and national policymakers, and explored how The Forum might best participate in COP26. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working with The Forum, and I strongly recommend that PhD students apply to the internship to gain valuable insights into how researchers influence policy.
Dr Kieran Brophy – Communications and Policy Manager, Faculty of Engineering (October to December 2020)
My day job is essentially to translate Imperial research, and its importance to society, for a non-specialised audience. One of the more important ways I do this is by writing Briefing Papers – these are papers that have policymakers as a key target audience.
However, I had limited previous experience of engaging with and writing for a policy audience. To help rid myself of the imposter syndrome I was feeling, I jumped at this opportunity to immerse myself more into this world.
To someone whose background is in physics, the world of policymaking was quite alien, to say the least. But my secondment with The Forum has certainly taught me a lot, built my contacts list, and given me an appreciation of how to create content that appeals to a policy audience. Finding out how the mechanism that is Government, Parliament, and all the other components that go into crafting new policies actually work, is definitely something that anyone who is looking to increase the real-world impact of their work should look at.
When creating content for policymakers, getting the balance right between including just enough detail that explains your findings, all whilst not losing your audience, is an art form (which I still have much to learn!)
But since my internship, I’ve applied my newfound experience to our recent Briefing Paper on “The future of wearable technologies”, which hopefully will play a part in how policymakers and regulators think about this new and exciting field.