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22.12.06
From lobbying to the laboratory – Julia Goldsworthy MP was scientist for a day

Falmouth and Camborne MP Julia Goldsworthy had a taste of academic life at the Tremough Campus in Penryn on Friday, 22 December. Julia spent the day touring the University of Exeter's Biosciences department at Tremough, including Cornwall's only molecular genetics laboratory.

Julia tried her hand at counting the number of sperm that fruit flies produce when they are infected with bacteria, and learnt how the same technology that the police use to catch criminals is being used to study populations of endangered birds.

As part of the Royal Society MP-Scientist Pairing Scheme, Julia has been partnered with Dr Tom Tregenza, University of Exeter biologist based at Tremough. While Julia is taking time out from lobbying to experience life in the laboratory, Dr Tregenza has been hanging up his lab coat and heading off to the House of Commons.

Julia Goldsworthy says: "Having spent a week with Dr Tregenza, showing him what life is like in Parliament, I was very much looking forward to working as a scientist for the day! It's been many years since I have studied science so I am sure that I will learn a lot. It is also interesting to see the new facilities at the campus from the point of view of the staff and students who use them."

Dr Tom Tregenza says: "I hope Julia found her visit to Tremough as enlightening as I found my introduction into the world of politics. This scheme is just the beginning - I'm keen for Julia to be involved in the developments at Tremough as we become a world-class centre for research into ecology and conservation. I also think it's important for scientists to be aware of what's going on in the political arena, both locally and nationally."

Originally from Penzance and now living in Falmouth, Dr Tom Tregenza is a Royal Society Research Fellow. He researches evolution, genetics, sexual behaviour in animals and the emergence of new species.

The Biosciences team at Tremough focuses its research into animal behaviour, ecology and conservation and evolutionary biology and its facilities include Cornwall's only molecular genetics laboratory. Recent research projects have focused on tracking endangered marine turtles, 'de-coding' the genes that colour butterflies' wings and monitoring basking sharks off the south-west tip of Cornwall. During 2007, the department will expand again and hopes to make several new appointments.

The £100 million Tremough campus is a Combined Universities in Cornwall initiative of which the University of Exeter and University College Falmouth are two of the founding partners. It is funded mainly by the European Union (Objective One), the South West Regional Development Agency, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England, with support from Cornwall County Council. Set in 70 acres of countryside, but close to the waterside towns of Penryn and Falmouth, the campus offers a lively student community. The University of Exeter is expanding its courses available to include Politics, Law and History to existing degrees in Mining Engineering, Geology, Biology, Geography, English and Renewable Energy.

For further information contact Sarah Hoyle of the University of Exeter on 01392 262062 or email S.Hoyle@exeter.ac.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) project, both Phase 1 and Phase 2, through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The University of Exeter is a partner of the CUC.

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Editor's notes:

The Royal Society is the UK national academy of science. This year marks the sixth year of the Royal Society MP Scientist Pairing Scheme, which has seen over 100 scientists and MPs take part. The scheme seeks to build bridges between parliamentarians and some of the best science research workers in the UK. The scheme aims to:

Give MPs the opportunity to forge more direct links with the scientific community so that they can familiarise themselves with the process of scientific understanding and be better informed of current science issues and to learn about the issues affecting scientists and universities
Help research scientists from across the UK become aware of the potential methods and structures through which they can influence the science policy process

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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