Akshay joined POST in 2016 through the Ashok Kumar Postgraduate Fellowship.

Growing up, he was always interested in the way the UK’s legislative bodies work. He also enjoyed reading about the latest research and its policy context. So applying for a POST fellowship was the next logical step.

Today Akshay is a postdoctoral associate at MIT.

The POST experience

“My first week at POST was an incredible experience”, says Akshay. From the get-go, he tried to learn about as many of the research resources available at Parliament as possible. From checking out the House of Commons Library to attending select committee evidence sessions and All-Party Parliamentary Group meetings.

After his induction, Akshay worked on a POSTnote on nuclear security, which looked at the prevention of malicious acts involving nuclear or other radioactive materials and their associated facilities. He remembers thoroughly enjoying immersing himself both in the work, which was foreign to him, while exploring the Parliamentary Estate.

He also recalls how surprised he was with the interviews he had to conduct. He did not expect interviewing to play such a central role in gathering and analysing evidence. “Initially, I found the interviews a little daunting,” he confesses, but he came to really enjoy talking cutting-edge science and policy with leading experts.

Ultimately the fellowship was a great experience for Akshay. “I had an amazing time at POST both researching a new and initially foreign subject area and experiencing the wider work of Parliament” he says. Working alongside researchers and staff from POST and the House of Commons Library, he learnt about the broader communication of research throughout Parliament. His experience at POST highlighted to him the key role of accurate and concise briefing documents like POSTnotes. He saw first-hand how they could help MPs and peers make informed decisions.

“It was exciting to see Members of Parliament and their research staff engage in the vital work of scrutinising government policy and proposing solutions to tackle important challenges.”

Life after POST

After POST Akshay returned to Yale to continue his PhD work on Theory-Guided Membrane Design. After finishing in 2019, he became a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT and is now working on the thermodynamic analysis of aqueous-organic-electrolyte mixtures for water desalination and organic solvent separations.

While he’s still in academia, he thinks his fellowship greatly improved his ability to rapidly analyse new information – a key skill in any research-related field. But that’s not all. “The communication skills gained during my time at POST have also helped increase my confidence in writing both technical and broader impact material for my work” he says.

Advice for POST fellows

Akshay’s advice for any researcher interested in science policy is simple – get involved! There are many ways to get involved with POST, from getting a fellowship and directly co-authoring a parliamentary briefing, to contributing expertise if you’re an established expert.

“It is incredible to see the analysis and scrutiny of policy up-close under the guidance of POST’s scientific advisers. It’s also highly rewarding to be part of the POST team, learn and contribute, even in a small way, to the parliamentary process.”

You can find Akshay on Twitter @akshaypd

POST Fellowship Spotlights

A series of interviews with previous POST fellows exploring the POST experience, life after the fellowship, and advice to new fellows.