NERC appoints three new members
13 August 2008
Three new appointments to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) have been announced by Ian Pearson, Minister for Science & Innovation. Four existing members have been re-appointed following their first term.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funds world-class science, in universities and its own research centres, that increases knowledge and understanding of the natural world. It is tackling major environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and natural hazards. NERC receives around £400 million a year from the government's science budget, which it uses to provide independent research and training in the environmental sciences. It also generates external income of about £50 million from industry, government departments and other bodies.
Council members have corporate responsibility for all NERC's actions and those of its staff. They decide issues such as corporate strategy, key strategic objectives and targets, and major decisions involving the use of financial and other resources.
Mr Rowan Douglas (commercial member) and Professors Charles Godfray and Andrew Watson (academic members) join the Council for a period of 4 years. Their appointments are effective from 1 August 2008.
Mr Peter Hazell and Professors Huw Davies, Alastair Fitter and Alex Halliday will all serve a second term of 3 years from 1 August 2008.
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.
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.
Professor Andrew Watson is a professor of the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia (UEA) 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 since 1996, at UEA.
Ed Wallis, Chairman of NERC, said, "The marine science sector has been under-represented on the Council in recent years so Professor Watson's expertise in this area is welcomed. Together with Professor Godfray's extensive scientific knowledge and Mr Douglas' years of dealing with knowledge exchange and the financial services industry, the new members bring a range of diverse skills and expertise that will help us to deliver our strategic goals."
NERC Press Office
Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU
Tel: 01793 411561
Mob: 07917 557215
1. Appointments to NERC are made in accordance with the requirements of the Code of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for the appointees' political activity (if any declared) to be made public.
As well as his role at Oxford University, Professor Godfray has been appointed By Defra to the Board of Trustees for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Of the re-appointed members, Mr Hazell is a member of the government's Competition Commission and Professor Halliday is on the Board of Trustees for the Natural History Museum.
The newly appointed members will receive an honorarium of £6,570 per annum
2. Biographies for all NERC Council members are available.
Press release: 45/08
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