NERC Council biographies
NERC is committed to being open and transparent, and so here we give some background to members of NERC's Council. A register of Council members' interests is also publicly available.
Ed Wallis was recently the Chairman of W S Atkins (January 2005 - 2010) having retired from Powergen in August 2003, where his final role was that of Chairman and Chief Executive. Ed is also a Member of the Board of Directors, Birmingham Royal Ballet and a Governor of the Royal Ballet School.
Ed qualified in Electrical Engineering at the University of Aston in 1962 and in General Management Studies at Henley Management College in 1978. Ed was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Technology by Brunel University and Doctor of Science by Aston University.
Ed is a Companion of the British Institute of Management and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman
Duncan received a B.Sc. from the University of Leeds in 1979, and a Ph.D from the University of Bath in 1984, both in physics. He joined University College London in 1986, where he held lecturing posts at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory and the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering.
He was appointed as a Chair in the Department of Space and Climate Physics in 1996, and was Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at UCL from 2005 to 2010.
He was founder and Director of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) from 2000 to 2005 which, among other things, discovered the widespread mass loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and its origin in accelerated ocean melting.
He was Chairman of the Science and Innovation Board of NERC and, since 2000, the Lead Investigator of the ESA CryoSat and CryoSat-2 satellite missions.
Duncan became Chief Executive of the natural Environment Research Council on 1 January 2012.
Professor Ian Boyd's career has evolved from physiological ecologist with the NERC Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, to a science programme director with the British Antarctic Survey, Director at the NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit, Chief Scientist to the Behavioural Response Study for the US Navy, Director for the Scottish Oceans Institute and acting Director and Chairman with the Marine Alliance for Science & Technology for Scotland. He has also been the Chief Executive or board member of several companies for the University of St Andrews. He is currently Professor in Biology at the University of St Andrews and Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
In parallel to his formal positions, he has chaired, co-chaired or directed international scientific assessments; his activities focusing upon the management of human impacts on the marine environment.
Ian was responsible for establishing the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews and the Marine Alliance for Science & Technology for Scotland, one of Scotland's cross-institutional research pools which includes eight Scottish universities. He established several operating companies for the University of St Andrews and these now operate globally with subsidiaries in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong. As Director of the NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit he was responsible for advising Defra and the Scottish Government about policy related to marine mammals. He is also a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council and is on the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science.
Professor Boyd has received numerous honours and awards recognising his contributions to science, including the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London and the Bruce Medal (awarded once every four years) for his research in polar science. He has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's National Academy, and is a Fellow of the Society of Biology.
Professor Paul Curran is Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Physical Geography at City University London. Paul studied at the Universities of Sheffield, Southampton and Bristol. During the 1980s and early 1990s he held academic appointments at the Universities of Reading, Sheffield and Swansea and was a Senior Research Associate with NASA in California.
From 2005-10, Paul was Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Physical Geography at Bournemouth University. For the preceding twelve years Paul held the positions of Head of the Geography Department, Dean of Science, Head of Winchester School of Art and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southampton.
He has served on several UK committees, including the NERC Terrestrial Life Sciences Committee, Royal Society Working Party on carbon sinks and the RAE Panel for Geography.
Paul is Chair of the Universities & Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) board and leads the employers' negotiating team in national pay negotiations; Chair of the national Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration; a member of Universities UK and its Research Policy and Employability, Business & Industry policy committees and President of the Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Society.
His research is in the field of environmental Earth observation from satellite and airborne sensors.
Mr Rowan Douglas is the managing director of Willis Analytics for Willis Re, the world's third largest insurance and re-insurance broker. He is also Chairman of the Willis Research Network.
After graduating with degrees in Geography from Durham and Bristol Universities and underwriting reinsurance at Lloyds, Mr Douglas founded WIRE Ltd, an intellectual broking company arranging research between financial markets (especially insurance) and academia. WIRE was sold to the Willis Group in November 2000. Mr Douglas has since held a number of senior positions with the organisation including head of e-business and executive director, Willis Capital Markets.
In 2005, whilst in his current post with Willis Analytics, Mr Douglas founded the Willis Research Network, which has become the world's largest collaboration between academia and the insurance industry, supporting university research in Europe, North America and across Asia pacific. The WRN undertakes research to evaluate the frequency, severity and impact of natural catastrophes, and develop private and public sector risk financing to share the costs of these extreme events across populations.
In June 2011, Rowan was appointed as a member of the Council for Science and Technology, the UK Government's top-level advisory body on science and technology policy issues, which reports directly to the Prime Minister.
Nick joined The Co-operative Group in May 2013 as Group Director - External Affairs, to develop and sustain the external relationships vital to the Group's future success. His remit was expanded in June as he was also appointed as Executive Director, Group CEO's Office.
Nick joined The Co-op from Kingfisher plc, a FTSE100 international retailer, where he was a member of the Retail Board and held a number of executive positions over the period 2007-13. Latterly he was the Group Corporate Affairs Director, leading the team that developed and launched the market leading sustainability programme, 'Net Positive'. He was also responsible for the Group's Government Affairs and Regulatory programme. From 2007-2012 Nick was Company Secretary to the plc Board, Group Legal & Corporate Responsibility Director, and B&Q's Legal Director from 2009-2011. Prior to joining Kingfisher, Nick was a member of the Group Executive, Company Secretary and Group Legal Director of Emap plc, a FTSE100 media conglomerate. Nick has held a number of other corporate in-house legal roles, having qualified as a solicitor at Linklaters & Paines in 1993.
Nick is currently a board member of the British Retail Consortium, vice-chairman of the GC100 (the general counsel and company secretaries of the FTSE 100) and a member of the Natural Environment Research Council. In the past, Nick was a member of OFGEM's Sustainable Development Advisory Group, the treasurer of The British American Project, an adviser of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, and a member of the Companies Committee of the CBI.
Professor Charles Godfray is a professor in zoology at the University of Oxford and is a Fellow of the Royal Society. Previously the director of NERC's Centre for Population Biology at Imperial College, Professor Godfray has participated in a number of NERC panels and advisory committees and is currently on the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology's Science Advisory Panel. He is a member of the Science Advisory Council for the European Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT), amongst other international committees.
Professor Godfray is a population biologist with broad interests in environment, ecology and evolution. In addition to his core work on fundamental environmental science, Professor Godfray has published in areas such as sustainable agriculture and epidemiology and recently co-organised a Royal Society discussion meeting, 'The Environmental e-Science Revolution' which brought together physical and biological scientists to discuss better ways of harnessing modern cybertechnology in the environmental sciences.
Louise Heathwaite is Professor of Land & Water Science and Co-Director of the Centre for Sustainable Water Management in the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University. She also works part-time for the Scottish Government as Chief Scientific Adviser for Rural Affairs & Environment. Previously, Louise worked as a science champion for NERC as Theme Leader for the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources theme.
Louise is a Fellow of the Society of Biology and a Fellow of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. She is a member of Defra's Science Advisory Council and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Advisory Committee. Louise is on the Steering Board of the UK Collaborative on Development Science and the expert panel for the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.
Louise has a first-class honours BSc in environmental science from the University of East Anglia and a PhD from the University of Bristol, where she examined the impacts of drainage on wetland hydrochemistry in the Somerset Levels. She undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford on a NERC project examining land use and land management controls on water quality, before joining the Nature Conservancy Council in Peterborough as their Environmental Hydrologist. In 1990, Louise took up a lectureship in the Department of Geography at Sheffield University and was awarded a Personal Chair in 1998. She moved to Lancaster University in 2004.
Georgina Mace is Professor of Biodiversity & Ecosystems and head of the Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research at University College London. Her research interests are in measuring the trends and consequences of biodiversity loss and ecosystem change. She was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2002, and was the 2007 winner of the international Cosmos prize. She is President of the British Ecological Society and Chair of the science committee for the DIVERSITAS global change research programme.
She studied zoology at the University of Liverpool and then did a PhD in evolutionary ecology at the University of Sussex. Following postdoctoral positions at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, the University of Newcastle upon Tyne and University College London, she became a research fellow at the Institute of Zoology in London. From 2000 to 2006 she was Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London and Head of the Institute of Zoology. In 2006 she moved to Imperial College London as Director of the NERC Centre for Population Biology, and in 2013 to University College.
Paul is a Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Leicester. He studied at the Universities of Warwick and Oxford before working at NASA/Goddard and the UEA in collaboration with CSIRO in Australia. He is a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2004, he was awarded the EU Lillehammer Young Scientist award.
His primary research interests are the scientific questions underlying: the role of photochemistry in the control of atmospheric composition; chemistry and transport, particularly the impact of long-range transport on chemical composition; the feedbacks between climate and atmospheric chemistry; organic complexity and the control of regional pollution and the measurement of tropospheric composition from space. He is also actively involved in knowledge exchange with the forensic, security and health sectors.
Paul sits on a number of national and international bodies. He is a Co-Director of the UK Centre for Earth Observation Instrumentation, a task leader for the EU-ACCENT network, a member of the Commission for Atmospheric Chemistry & Global Pollution (CACGP) and Co-Chair of the IGBP's International Global Atmospheric Chemistry project. He is a member of BIS's Space Leadership Council. He is Chair of Defra's Air Quality Expert Group (government science advisory committee on air quality). Until recently, he was also a member of NERC's Science & Innovation Strategy Board (SISB).
Mr Ian Simm is the founder and Chief Executive of Impax Asset Management Group plc ('Impax'), one of the largest investment managers dedicated to the environment sector. Impax manages money for institutional investors around the world, including several pension funds for public sector employees, and invests in publicly traded and privately owned companies in the low-carbon energy, water, waste and agriculture sectors. Impax has won multiple awards for its pioneering work in the field of sustainable investment.
Ian chairs Impax's investment committees and is a member of several investment industry associations that discuss environmental policy with UK government departments and elected officials and with regulators in Europe, the United States and Asia. He comments frequently in the media on issues related to environmental investment.
Prior to Impax, Ian was an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company in the Netherlands where he led teams to advise clients in a range of environmentally sensitive industries. He has a first class honours degree in natural sciences (physics) from Cambridge University and a Master's in Public Administration from Harvard University, where he was a Knox Scholar.
Professor Julia Slingo took up the post of Met Office Chief Scientist in February 2009. Prior to that she was the Director of Climate Research in NERC's National Centre for Atmospheric Science; she held that post at the University of Reading, where she continues as a Professor of Meteorology. In 2006 she founded the Walker Institute for Climate System Research at Reading, aimed at addressing the cross disciplinary challenges of climate change and its impacts.
Professor Slingo has had a long-term career in climate modelling and research, working at the Met Office, the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasting (ECMWF) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the USA. Her personal research addresses problems in tropical climate variability, its influence on the global climate, its role in seasonal to decadal climate prediction, and its response to climate change. Increasingly Prof. Slingo's research considers the multi-disciplinary aspects of the impacts of climate variability and change on crops and water resources, and hence the need to improve the representation of weather systems and rainfall distributions in climate prediction models.
Professor Slingo has contributed to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change and to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She has served as a member of several national and international committees, including the Met Office and ECMWF Scientific Advisory Committees, and in 2007 was appointed to the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme. She is regularly involved in Royal Society activities, and in 2008 became the first woman President of the Royal Meteorological Society.
Christine Tacon is an experienced director in food, farming and the environment across both the commercial and public sector. She ran the Co-operative Group's farming business for 11 years following a career in engineering and fast moving consumer goods such as Mars and Fonterra.
Christine is acutely aware of the need to grow more food whilst improving the environment and biodiversity. She chairs the Food & Drink Engineering Forum across the main engineering institutions with the aim of getting more connection between research and industry needs. She is a member of the Business Advisory Board of Living With Environmental Change (LWEC), which has NERC as one of its partners.
Christine has recently been appointed the Groceries Code Adjudicator, a part-time position to oversee adherence to the Groceries Code of Practice between grocery retailers and their direct suppliers. She has a portfolio of Non-Executive Directorships, including the Met Office, she chairs the BBC Rural Affairs Advisory Committee and is a Governor of Harper Adams University.
Professor Andrew Watson is a professor at the University of Exeter, College of Life & Environmental Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has been a member of several NERC committees, including the steering committee for the RAPID thematic programme, and contributed to the latest NERC Strategy as a member of the Earth System Science Review Group. He has also been involved with a number of international advisory boards such as the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Bjerknes Climate Centre, Norway.
Professor Watson's areas of expertise encompass marine biology, physics and chemistry, atmospheric and planetary sciences and Earth system science. He has extensive experience of leading large research groups specialising in marine biogeochemistry, originally at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory as a NERC employee, and, from 1996-2013, at the University of East Anglia.
Lord Willis is a Member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee and a member of the Liberal Democrat Party; he does not hold any specific office within the party.
He has been Chair of the Commons Science & Technology Select Committee 2005-07, the Innovation, Universities, Science & Skills Committee 2007-09 and the S&T Committee again 2009-10. He was also a member of the Commons Education & Employment Select Committee (Employment sub-Committee) 1999-2000 and Chair Joint Committee on the Draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill 2007.
During his time as member of the Liberal Democrat Party, he was Liberal Democrat Commons Whip 1997-99, Spokesperson for Further, Higher and Adult Education 1997-99, Principal Spokesperson for Education and Employment 1999-2000, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills 2000-05.
Since 2010, he has been Vice-President of the Local Government Association 2010. He is Chair Elect of the e-Learning Foundation; Chair of the Association of Medical Research Charities, President of Yorkshire Society for the Disabled and a board member of the Foundation for Science & Technology.
His past career was as a head teacher of several comprehensive schools and as leader of Harrogate Borough Council (1990-97).
Ms Rebecca Willis is an independent consultant in environmental policy and practice. She convenes Green Alliance's Climate Change Leadership Programme for UK politicians and advises the Lake District National Park Authority on climate change issues. Previously, she was the Vice-Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission (2004-2011), providing independent advice to government, and Director of Green Alliance, the environmental think-tank (2001-2004).
Ms Willis is an Associate of Ashridge Business School, a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee of the Cranfield Risk Centre and an adviser to the Community Innovation in Sustainable Energy initiative at the University of Sussex. She has taught on postgraduate courses at the Universities of Leeds and Cumbria, and, while director of Green Alliance, represented UK Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) as a board member of the European Environmental Bureau. She has advised government, business and the third sector on a range of issues including climate change, attitudes to the environment, public engagement in science, and the environmental and social impact of new technologies.
Ms Willis holds a BA in social & political sciences from the University of Cambridge, and an MA in environment, development & policy from the University of Sussex.