First-hand experience of policy making and the research-policy interface at a key New Zealand organisation for bridging the gap between policy making and research. 

The project investigated science communication during the COVID-19 pandemic in New Zealand, specifically the public and political reception of the scientific concepts that became prominent during this period (genomic sequencing, viral mutation, infection rates, virus incubation and generation time-periods, vaccination production and functioning etc.). It involved interviewing scientists who were leaders both in producing research relevant to the pandemic and in communicating that research to policymakers and the public in order to gain an overview of how science communication operated, how well politicians and the public understood different aspects of the science and the challenges involved in communicating about these concepts. 

I gained professional experience working in an organisation, such as workplace professionalism and transferable business skills, as well as considerable experience engaging with policymakers and researchers across disciplinary boundaries. They also gained experience of working in a research and policy context in New Zealand that is different to the UK.   

The main impact of the fellowship was greater insights about the intricacies of science communication, comprehension and information dissemination during the pandemic. The knowledge gathered and collated is firstly intended as a resource that can be drawn upon in the future by researchers in the office. In the coming months I to use what I’ve learnt to publish an article in a New Zealand policy journal which will include its own impact measures.   

The project has been profoundly important for my PhD research in the contacts I have made and the opportunities I will now be able to take having resumed my PhD studies. I am more determined to make sure my research reaches both audiences. I will be more likely to either go into policy research or straddle the divide between academia and policy research.  

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