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As another year draws to a close, it seems appropriate to reflect on the work of RSB in 2023.

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In January, the Society welcomed the publication of a new plant health strategy, an action plan to protect UK plants from pests and diseases. RSB’s contributions to this strategy shows what can be achieved through close links with partner organisations.

Our constructive work with UK Government was also demonstrated in a manifesto published by RSB, urging the next government for investment into the biosciences, promotion of STEM expertise right the way through from schools to government. RSB’s education policy team further illustrated our commitment to supporting bioscience education through the submission of written evidence to parliament. The submitted evidence supported inquiries into teacher recruitment, retention, subject specific training, routes through science at GCSE, and the development of a coherent framework for the 5-19 biology curricula.

Education was not the only matter addressed through a parliamentary inquiry in which RSB engaged. In March, the RSB science policy team submitted a response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee call for evidence on emerging diseases and learning from COVID-19.

Looking further afield than the UK, 2023 saw RSB open its first regional branch in Southeast Asia. Representing Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, we look forward to the opportunities its members will have to promote the biosciences across an entire region.

This year also saw the launch of RSB’s Employer Advisory Network, a group of companies active in the biosciences, providing expertise and support to the Society, and bringing an invaluable industry perspective to the work that we do.

We saw many new and returning faces to RSB events including at our annual careers fair held at Sheffield Hallam University that saw students attend in their hundreds to learn more about career options, improve their CV writing and hear from life science professionals. Voice of the Future in Westminster saw early career scientists given the chance to voice their questions about the future of science to MPs, ministers and Defra’s Chief Scientific Advisor.

A Member Organisation (MO) Twilight Meeting was held about neuroinclusive careers in STEM and over 1,000 degree programmes at 101 Higher Education (HE) institutes were formally awarded degree accreditation by the RSB at an awards ceremony in Westminster.

More than 100 members joined both in-person and virtually, for our Annual General Meeting, which took place at The Wellcome Collection. The meeting included updates from RSB chief executive, appointments to RSB Council and this year’s Charter Lecture from Fiona Fox OBE Hon FRSB, chief executive of the Science Media Centre.

Our Plant Health Conference offered a platform for experts to discuss the future of worldwide plant health. MPs, representatives from scientific organisations and those related to parliamentary science policy convened to discuss science and economic development at Parliamentary Links Day, the largest science event on the annual parliamentary events calendar. It is organised by the RSB on behalf of the science and engineering community.

A parliamentary reception was held in celebration of Biology Week where guests also heard about RSB’s Net Zero strategy announcement and saw the Award Ceremony for prize winners involved in the organisation’s competitions and other initiatives. Guests heard from Professor Sir Ian Boyd FRSB, president of RSB, who spoke about the organisation’s climate and nature strategy. Biology Week also saw the launch of RSB's Biosphere podcast and five entertaining episodes are now live.

Dr Mark Downs CBiol CSci FRSB, chief executive of RSB, said: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our members and MO’s for their continued support and engagement, and for making possible RSB’s mission to be a unifying voice for biology. We wish you a healthy and happy festive period, and look forward to what 2024 brings.”

Stay up-to-date with RSB activity on X (formally known as Twitter), LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube, and in our award-winning magazine, The Biologist.