Ronit Prawer

Director, UK Government's Science and Innovation Network

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No one does it alone. No one. Everyone is standing on the shoulders of giants.

What do you do?

As a UK Science Diplomat in the US, me and my team are tasked with designing and implementing an ambitious strategy to grow and strengthen the bilateral relationship between Great Britain and the United States on research and innovation. We also help the UK government implement evidence-based policy in both multilateral and domestic contexts.

Why did you choose this field?

Working as a laboratory scientist, I quickly realised that while I was an 'okay' scientist, I was better than average at translating our work to others. I enjoyed engaging with all our stakeholders - funders; ethics committees; media, the public, the political establishment. I enjoyed explaining not just what we were doing, but why it was significant in the broader social context. For me, this was the beginning of the realisation that I could best serve science by operating in the ecosystem surrounding research, rather than at the bench. I've worked in science engagement and science policy, and found my ideal work in science diplomacy!

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I established the UK's first Science Diplomacy programmes linking Israeli and Palestinian researchers. I wish younger me could have known that was possible! I would never have believed that a common commitment to science, kindness and progress was enough to circumvent major geopolitical obstacles.

Why do you love working in STEM?

When the diplomatic or government establishment encounters a challenge, the first ones to embrace that problem as their own are the scientific community. I have seen scientists work with governments to combat everything from international wildlife trafficking to antimicrobial resistance to congestion on the sidewalk. When science and policy work together, there's a real magic!

Best advice for next generation?

No one does it alone. No one. Everyone is standing on the shoulders of giants, or at the very least holding hands with a friend. Find those friends and establish that network. Ask for advice when you need it. Offer help when you can.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted."

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