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Updates from our Science Engagement Fellows

Updates from our Science Engagement Fellows


03 July 2024

Over the past 12 months, the RMetS Science Engagement Fellowship Programme has continued to deliver on strategic objectives of the Society. Launched in 2021, the programme is comprised of part-time opportunities for PhD students or postdoctorates to support the Society’s mission to advance the understanding and application of weather and climate, with a focus on youth and early careers and the insurance and energy sectors. 

As the Society enters the third year of its Science Engagement Fellowship programme, we are delighted to introduce Ben Hutchins as our new Science Engagement Fellow focused on energy. As we welcome Ben, we also say goodbye to Regan Mudhar (Early Career Science Engagement Fellow 2023-2024) and Matthew Wright (Energy Science Engagement Fellow 2022-2024) and thank them for their hard work and dedication to the Society. Ben will work alongside Dr Matthew Priestley, the Insurance Science Engagement Fellow, who is continuing his part-time Fellowship for another year. 


An introduction from Ben Hutchins (incoming Energy Fellow) 

Hi, I’m Ben and I am a PhD student at the University of Reading. In my research, I explore the potential applications of decadal climate prediction for the energy sector. This includes evaluating forecasts for how the climate may vary over the next decade and aggregating simulated forecast data to explore extremes. Having attended previous RMetS Energy Special Interest Group events, I have been impressed with how much Matthew Wright and the RMetS team have achieved over the past two years. I am excited to take over as the RMetS Science Engagement Fellow and hope to build on their success over the next year! 


Reflections from our outgoing and continuing fellows 

Matthew Wright (Energy) 

My two years as Energy Science Engagement Fellow have gone by in a flash and I have loved being part of the RMetS team! I have spent one day per week project managing the Society’s engagement with stakeholders across the energy sector, convening the Energy Special Interest Group (SIG), as well as getting involved in other engagement activities. 

 I’m very proud of our achievements that have increased the engagement of RMetS with the energy sector. It has been challenging, at times, to get our engagement off the ground, but I think the Society is now in a great place to continue working with and for the energy sector. Our annual webinar presenting the upcoming winter seasonal forecast to the energy sector has been a great success and has received very positive feedback from people working across the industry. 

 We also delivered a half-day online conference, the Energy, Weather and Climate Forum, the first event of its kind organised by RMetS. The fForum was the culmination of months of hard work from the Energy SIG and the whole team at RMetS. It had some great keynote speakers and provided an ideal platform to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the energy sector.  Another highlight was attending the International Conference on Energy and Meteorology last summer, andsummer and presenting our work to academics and professionals at the intersection of energy and weather/climate from around the world. 

Personally, I have learned a lot during my fFellowship and it has used different skills to those I use in my ‘day job’ as a PhD student in Oxford. Thinking about the impacts of weather and climate on the energy sector has helped me explore a different side of meteorology, build connections across the academic─industry boundary, and appreciate how different sectors need to work closely together to address climate change and deliver benefits for society. The role has been extremely varied: from inviting speakers to events, to chairing meetings and seminars, to preparing corporate partnership proposals. I have also had the opportunity to write and edit several articles and blogs for a general audience, including recently with Matt Priestley (Insurance Science Engagement Fellow) for The Conversation

I think it is really important that RMetS maintains and uses its position as an independent voice of authority to educate and assist the sectors that depend on weather and climate. This includes energy and insurance through the current SIGs, and I hope that the sectors RMetS supports through SIGs and Science Engagement Fellows can be expanded to transport, buildings, agriculture and others in the coming years. 

It has been great to work with some wonderful people during my time at RMetS:  Dan and Regan (Youth and Early Career fellows) and Hannah and Matt (Insurance fellows) across the two years; Dafni and David as co-chairs of the Energy SIG; and all other members of the SIG who have contributed time and effort to our work. Finally, I want to say a massive thanks to all the RMetS team, especially Hannah Mallinson, who have been so welcoming and helpful during my Fellowship, and good luck to Ben who I know will do a great job as he takes the reins. 

This has been a very successful two years setting up the Energy SIG and starting our engagement with energy – but there is still a lot of work to do. I will still be a member of the Energy SIG, so will continue to contribute and watch with interest as the Society’s many exciting projects continue! 


Regan Mudhar (Youth and Early Career) 

The last year has been a whirlwind, and I am incredibly proud of the initiatives I have worked on in collaboration with members of the Youth & Early Careers Special Interest Group (SIG), my fellow(!) Science Engagement Fellows, and the wonderful team at RMetS. Though I worked on many projects over the year, there are a few I feel particularly privileged to have been part of…  

 I hit the ground running in summer 2023, working with the Society and SIG to channel over 100 survey responses on being “early career” in the field of weather and climate into an updated definition for the Society in early 2024. By recognising that our career paths are never straight lines, I believe we have arrived at something that encourages greater inclusivity of both early career researchers and professionals.  

 I also supported RMetS in relaunching their Student Ambassadors programme, recruiting over 30 ambassadors across 20 different UK universities for the 2023/24 academic year. By redesigning the role to increase the level of engagement from RMetS and requiring ambassadors to contribute to at least one careers-related event at their university, we have seen an inspiring cohort conduct some really exciting work in real time!  

 Over the year, I have seen how the Society has been able to provide resources and spaces specifically requested by youth and early career members. For example, one activity completely conceived, developed, and produced by the SIG was a video resource for early careers to learn about communicating their science to the media. Although I felt slightly ridiculous rearranging my houseplants to get the perfect shot, it was amazing for this idea to have come all the way from suggestion in a SIG meeting, to fruition, fully filmed and available to members this spring!  

 But perhaps the work I am most proud of—both personally, but also because it demonstrated RMetS’ willingness to listen and learn—is that of the ‘Diverse Voices’ speaker series, and ‘Early Careers of Colour’ network. What started as a casual chat at last summer’s Early Career & Student conference, led to myself and Leeds PhD student Ashar Aslam kicking off our first webinar just over six months later, with the network due to meet in person at this summer’s conference! With support from the RMetS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee and the SIG, we have built something that will undoubtedly evolve over time to encourage and support the growing, and similarly evolving, field of weather and climate.   

 I have, at times, felt that I don’t have or don’t know how to use my voice in what can be quite an overwhelmingly large and busy field. From chatting to some of the many people I have had the pleasure of meeting or working with in the last year, it’s clear that I am not alone in that feeling. I hope that my work during this fellowship, and all that the new Science Engagement Officer takes forward, has helped some of those people (and beyond!) realise that weather and climate should and can be for all.  


Matthew Priestley (Insurance) 

I have been the Society’s Science Engagement Fellow for the Insurance sector for coming up to a whole year now. It has been a year that has gone very quickly and one in which a lot of progress has been made in a number of areas and been massively enjoyable. I have also had the opportunity to meet a whole raft of new people, have some great experiences, and broaden my network substantially. 

There have been numerous highlights and achievements of the last year. The key highlights were the hosting of our first Weather and Climate Hazards’ webinar in November 2023, which was attended by more than 100 people and a great opportunity to share the latest research in the insurance sector. The biggest undertaking, and also biggest highlight of the last 12 months however, was our Navigating Climate Challenges in Insurance event we hosted in London in January 2024. This event brought together over 50 people from the sector and academia to discuss issues with the use of climate data in insurance, and how this can be done better in the future. It was great to see so many discussions take place, with written pieces from this event currently being prepared and to be published soon. 

I have also had opportunity to take the fellowship work to discussions at a variety of events around the country and share the work the Society is doing in connecting people working in and around the insurance sector, and how we can better utilise the latest weather and climate science in the sector. 

I am really grateful to be continuing this fellowship for another 12 months, as there are a lot of things to look forward to. We’ll be hosting the second of our webinars later in the year, and also exploring further activities to bring the latest academic a

4 July 2024

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