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From the Lab to Parliament

In the U.K. general elections earlier this month, University of Cambridge biochemist Julian Huppert won Cambridge’s seat in the U.K. parliament. Huppert has been active in local politics for years in addition to leading a small research group at the university. However, his latest political promotion means he’ll give up his lab. Huppert spoke with ScienceInsider last week. Some highlights:

Q: Do you plan to give up research or try to find time for
it?

J.H.: Being a research scientist and a member of
parliament are both full-time jobs. I will have to leave the lab. It was
a tough decision. … The general
perception is that I can probably do more for the research
community by being a voice who can speak up for it.

Q: On a more practical level then, what’s tougher, science or
politics?

J.H.:
They’re both tough in different ways, and they’re both
unpredictable in different ways. Certainly politics is more sociable — it
allows you to think
more about the whole range of different issues, while science
often tends to be very narrow.

Q: Growing up, did you want to be a scientist or a
politician? Have you always been juggling the two interests?

J.H.:
When I was growing up, I was always trying to do something
worthwhile. I was always interested in science. Both my parents are
scientists in various
ways. And so I studied science. I actually initially intended to
switch to law. I worked with the OECD [Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and
Development] for a while, then did a Ph.D. in science. But by
the time I got to my Ph.D., I was already an elected county councilor.
And so I spent my
whole Ph.D. and postdoc juggling these two roles. I got my first
academic position and then the opportunity to become an MP came up in
Cambridge, and
so I switched. It’s always been a challenge to find the best way
of doing something worthwhile.

Read the full interview on Science‘s policy blog, ScienceInsider.

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