Acceptance speech by André Mischke YAE Prize 2020 winner Dr. Grant Hil-Cawthorne


This year’s André Mischke YAE Prize for Science and Policy 2020 was awarded to Dr. Grant Hill-Cawthorne. By awarding the YAE Prize, we recognise his internationally leading roles in academic research, management, and policymaking. Dr. Grant Hill-Cawthorne was present at our online AGM 2020 to give his Prize-lecture, but will also accept the award in person at our next AGM in Barcelona 2021.


This year’s Laudatio by former YAE Chair Nicole Grobert (full text available as PDF) explained the impact of our award winner in his research and policy roles:

“The André Mischke Prize was established and renamed in honour of André, the Founding Chair of the YAE, because Europe and the World needs more ‘Andrés’ who go out of their way to make science and society a better place to be and not just today but also in and for the future. This year, the Prize is awarded to Grant Hill-Cawthorne in recognition of his outstanding achievements and contributions to science, evidence-based policy-making, science communication, and the support of future generation scientists and scholars in Europe.
Grant is an example par excellence who has made significant contributions to all of these missions of the Young Academy of Europe – a true gem. I first met Grant on a science policy panel in London and he struck me to be an exceptional human being. A scientist at heart with an eclectic research career who conducted his research in research laboratories on different continents across the world. What makes him also stand out is his decision to move from science into science policy professionally when he took up his role as Head of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in April 2018. It is a move that not many scientists consider yet, and I trust you would agree with me, that science and policy must go hand in hand, if society is to tackle future challenges – that in fact are with us already – climate change, plastic pollution, and COVID, to just name a few.This year, Grant has also been the President of the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment network which is the international organisation for legislative science advice units. He has been using this role and the concept of POST as a new model for bringing the worlds of academia and policy making closer together.
With his refreshing personality he’s been inspiring young and established scholar alike and therefore I cannot think of a better awardee for the André Mischke Prize 2020 than Grant. He is everything in one person that makes the YAE special. With Grant also being based in the UK, and with Brexit looming, the YAE message could not have been stronger by selecting Grant as the 2020 Prize winner. Science does not happen behind borders.”


The Prize lecture was given by Dr. Hill-Cawthorne online, during our online AGM 2020. The lecture was entitled “Bridging research and policy – Science advice, POST and COVID-19” (POST stands for Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology)​​​​​​​.

Grant spoke about science advice in the UK, where POST fits into this, and what Parliament has in fact done to tackle COVID-19. He first explained the roles of the UK government vs. the Parliament, as well as those of the House of Lords and the House of Commons. He then went one to explain how science advice works for the Parliament, with for example a Chief Scientific Advisor for each government department and all advisory offices, committees, experts and institutes below, with differing importance and impact. In an emergency like COVID-19, in the UK, an emergency group called COBR is convened (COBR is the acronym for the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms, a series of rooms located in the Cabinet office in 70 Whitehall). The purpose of COBR is to coordinate the different departments and agencies as effectively as possible to deal with the emergency. COBR is very much underpinned by scientific advice, i.e. by experts specific to the emergency like in this case experts in health and medicine. The appropriate legislation also needs to be put in place, which requires insights into social and economic impacts. The entire breath of research is thus extremely important for each crisis and significant efforts have been put in place to partner government with industry and academia in order to make the best use of each other. Grant explained in detail the different ways research and policy are interacting in the UK. The POST office keeps a close eye on scientific developments. They research literature and produce clear and effective information as well as advice reports for Government on important themes for the UK. COVID19 was presented as a very clear example on how Parliament responds to a major health crisis, and how science impacts their policies. Please go for all details to the full recording of his lecture here.