Dr Bilotta will contribute to work on Defra's organisational priorities which are to:
- Grow the rural economy
- Improve the environment
- Safeguard animal and plant health.
Dr Bilotta said:
"I am extremely pleased to have been provided with the opportunity to identify ways in which we can improve the procedures for procuring and evaluating the evidence-base behind the Department's policies.
"Defra is one of the most important UK government Departments, responsible for evidence-based policy and regulation to ensure that we have sustainable food supplies, clean water, and a healthy and productive environment."
As part of a one-year secondment, which is funded as part of the Natural Environment Research Council's Knowledge Exchange Fellowship Scheme, Dr Bilotta will work on a series of assessments of high-profile science policy issues drawing on the Dr Bilotta's expertise. These assessments will support the Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Ian Boyd, and the Strategic Evidence and Analysis Team, in improving the use of science and evidence in Defra, ultimately leading to the development of robust Government policies.
Dr Bilotta will also work to help to establish innovative mechanisms for the management and use of evidence in Defra, including arrangements for working with independent external experts. Finally, Dr Bilotta will also create and strengthen linkages between Defra and the research community in order to conduct horizon scanning activities and challenge Defra on the major evidence needs that could impact future policy. An important part of this work will involve soliciting feedback and perspectives from the academic research community.
Dr Bilotta said: "Over the next 12 months I am aiming to act as a conduit between the research community and Defra evidence and policy teams as the Department works on developing its new Evidence Investment Strategy. I will be soliciting feedback from the research community using a range of methods, including publishing articles in magazines and academic journals, presentations and discussions at stakeholder meetings and conferences, and through the use of social media sites such as Twitter using the dedicated Twitter account @Science4Policy. Through these approaches, I am also aiming to alert scientists to the emerging future evidence needs of Defra, and provide advice for researchers on how to increase the policy-relevance of their research".