Meet the Experts - Part 5
Q1: Tell us a bit about yourself
I work at the Institute for Environmental Analytics in the UK where I manage a programme on renewable energy for small islands states. I started my career as a climate scientists at the UK Met Office and then joined the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessing the science of climate change and its impacts on policy. This followed with a policy advisor role for the UK Government. I have a degree in Physics, an MSc in Meteorology and a PhD in Climate Modelling.
Q2: Tell us about the section of the Data Tree course that you have developed
Data and research: working with policy
The section 'Data and research: working with policy' of the Data Tree explores the role of data in the policymaking process, the mechanisms to engage with policy-makers and ways to communicate uncertainty in data. The module takes the student on a journey to discover the value of data in the political context, what do policy-makers want from data and how they use data as evidence. Students will also learn about the policy cycle and how this concept is not as linear and straight forward as it sounds. As an example, there is also a review of how the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change influences policy and how they deal with uncertainty.
Q3: Why is your section of Data Tree important for PhDs and ECRs?
Policymaking is messy and takes place in the middle of a very dynamic and interactive arena where issues come in and out of fashion, the same as people. So it is even more important that scientists communicate data and the evidence that emanates from the data in a way that engages and inform. But whose role is it to translate data into robust evidence that in turn is used by policy-makers and ultimately turns into practice?
The section highlights the importance of networking, engaging with international scientists and politicians and that communicating science in a clear way is just like telling a good story. People will listen!
Q4: What’s your top tip for PhD students and ECRs starting out in their careers?
Be a good listener and make time to listen to others.
I think we overemphasize the fact that students need to ask questions, that they need to speak in meetings, in public, in conferences…there are plenty of courses to make you a better speaker…But I think we are missing the skill of listening. So here are a few tips that have helped me:
1. Curiosity – open your mind and grow
2. Presence – don’t wonder to another planet
3. Notes – and rely back to the speaker
4. Feedback – show the speaker you get it
Q5: If you weren’t a Climate Programme Manager what would you be?
In my spare time I spend a lot of time by the pool…not swimming or sun bathing…but judging swimming competitions. I used to swim competitively and now I am a swimming official. So perhaps my dream job would be to travel the world following the Swimming World Championships and the Swimming at the Olympics…as a swimming judge.
Find out more about Maria and her experience here: