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SAGES internship: Ashley Buchan and the Scottish Science Advisory Council

Since 2017/18 ECCI and SAGES - the network that gives organisations, businesses and policy-makers to access geosciences-related expertise from across Scotland - have been teaming up to offer pioneering career enhancement opportunities for SAGES members.

The programme links students with relevant host organisations and is at the forefront of bringing academia and business together to tackle global environmental challenges. A range of business, third and public sector organisations working in priority areas of interest for SAGES were matched with PhD and MSc students to work together on meaningful consultancy projects.

Here we hear from Ashley Buchan, who worked with the Scottish Science Advisory Council. Ashley is a recent graduate of the Institute of Geography, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh whose PhD topic was beetles and long-term environmental change in a lowland raised mire.

Hi Ashley. What did you do and how did you find the experience?

Building on the work of another intern, I undertook key research underpinning a report on the potential for circular bioresource flows in Scotland, including analysing and synthesising data sets, completed questionnaires and a roundtable discussion.

Did you learn new skills during the internship?

I gained a much better understanding of what governments want from policy reports; they are generally much shorter than other reports generally, and they are more narrative, with greater emphasis on case studies, than what I am used to in academia.

"I had the opportunity to work under the guidance of experienced policy makers, and academics who have worked with government, which was very valuable. This placement helped me to understand how policy based organisations operate."

Do you think the internship was useful for your future career prospects?

My internship has given me an invaluable opportunity to work with experienced policy makers, academics, and industry experts to contribute to a report which I am happy to think will have an impact on Circular Economy policy in Scotland.

"I have a much keener understanding of what is expected of policy reports and how they differ from reports produced by other sectors. This experience will be hugely helpful whether I continue to work in policy, academia, or industry."

Were there any outputs?

The report is available on the SSAC website and ECCI published a news article on our work, which was shared widely on social media.

Myself and the working group presented our findings in a lunchtime lecture to the Rural and Environmental Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) of the Scottish Government on 19 April.


Supported by ECCI, SAGES is a network that gives organisations, businesses and policy-makers to access geosciences-related expertise from across Scotland.

It acts as a knowledge broker between scientists and research users, including Government teams and small businesses.