Yale post-graduate awarded fellowship in UK Parliament

28th February 2016

Akshay Deshmukh, a postgraduate chemical engineering student at Yale University, Connecticut, US, has been awarded the Ashok Kumar Fellowship for 2016.

The Fellowship provides an annual opportunity for a graduate chemical engineer to spend three months working at the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). It is jointly funded by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and the North-East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC).

Ashok Kumar, a Fellow of IChemE and Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, UK, died suddenly in 2010. He was the only Chartered Chemical Engineer in the UK House of Commons at the time.

Fellowship winner Akshay is a British graduate, achieving a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK. He is currently undertaking a PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Yale University, in the US.

Akshay’s PhD project concerns energy efficient ways of processing contaminated water into clean drinking water. His interest in making engineering processes more energy efficient, and environmentally-friendly, is highly relevant to a parliamentary Fellowship this year – with the COP21 emissions targets a high priority for UK government.

Keen to learn about how POST pulls together various pieces of research and data to put into a concise briefing for MP’s, Akshay said of being awarded the Fellowship: “I am thrilled to have been awarded this year's Ashok Kumar Fellowship and I would like to thank the IChemE, NEPIC and POST for giving me this opportunity. I am really looking forward to working with the POST team and learning about how a diverse and complex range of STEM research is used to better inform parliamentary debate and scrutiny.”

Dr Lydia Harriss, physical sciences and ICT adviser at Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) said: “We’re delighted to award Akshay the 2016 Ashok Kumar Fellowship and are really looking forward to him joining us in May. During his three month placement he’ll help POST to analyse and communicate scientific evidence and ensure that Parliament is well equipped to debate, scrutinise and pass legislation.

He’ll gain great experience from meeting with experts from across Government, industry, academia and the third sector as he researches and writes a POST note briefing for MPs and Peers. Fellows make a huge contribution to the work we do at POST and provide an important bridge between Parliament and the research community.”

Dr Stan Higgins, chief executive of the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), said: “Ashok Kumar's list of scholars is growing into quite a cadre of engineers and scientists who have spent time with POST, and now better understand the workings of our parliamentary system. Ashok would be very proud indeed of the calibre of the young people that have taken up this challenge set up on his name. This year the quality of applicants was very high i and we are sure that Akshay will do an excellent job during his experience with POST.”

IChemE policy manager, Alana Collis, who led the interview team for the Institution said: “Akshay clearly understood the importance of evidence based policy and the role science and engineering can and must play in government and decision makers. Although he is clearly passionate about his PhD, he wants to pursue a career in policy/public affairs and this is a fantastic opportunity to experience such an environment.”