NMB - Membership

Alison Robinson is NERC Deputy Executive Chair and Chair of the NERC Directors’ and NERC Management Board meetings. She has oversight of the development of NERC Strategy and the spending review submissions and leads on wider engagement for NERC and UKRI environmental sustainability.

Alison started out as a lawyer, working in the courts and the voluntary sector before joining the public service in Australia. Alison moved to Bangladesh in 2013, and worked with national NGOs contributing to their strategy and advocacy to support programmes promoting disability rights and preventing domestic violence. Before joining NERC as Director, Corporate Affairs in July 2014, Alison helped set-up the Legal Ombudsman, a national organisation.

Alison has a combined degree in arts & law from UNSW, Australia, and completed a research masters of social policy & planning while living and working in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Alison is a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and a trustee of the UK Association of Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC).

Victoria is Programme Director at the Natural Environment Research Council, UKRI. Victoria is a qualified accountant with a public sector background, having worked in HM Treasury and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport before joining the Research Councils in 2011. Victoria has held a number of finance roles in the Councils, including leading finance transformation across the seven Research Councils. She was the senior operational lead on the transformation programme to create UKRI and spent a year establishing UKRI’s risk and assurance function before taking up her current role in July 2019. Victoria has previously been a non-executive on the Rainbow Seed Fund and Sainsbury Laboratory Audit Committees and is NERC’s Board Observer for three of its research centres.

Non-executive director

Caroline Bault is a Managing Partner at CounselRock Partners, a specialist hedge fund research and alternative investment consultancy. She is also a non-executive director of multi-academy trust Aspirations Academies Trust and think tank Further Education Trust for Leadership (FETL), where she chairs the audit committees. She is a Board Director of ETHEX, a crowd funder and social impact investment online platform, as well as a trustee of the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity and the African Conservation Foundation.

Caroline has 30 years' experience in financial services and capital markets ranging from equity research and investment banking to hedge fund allocation, venture capital and angel investing. She has worked in London, Paris, Frankfurt, and New York and her prior assignments include MD CAIA Association, Director European Research at Commerzbank in London and Frankfurt and Executive Director at Goldman Sachs International.

She has an MBA from the University of San Diego, California and a BSBA from the University of Hartford, Connecticut. She is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) and a member of the CFA Institute. Caroline served as Chair of the Education Committee of 100 Women in Finance in London between 2009 and 2011 and is currently an Academies Ambassador.

Nigel BirdNigel Bird is Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) for the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation Programme (AIMP), which includes the RRS Sir David Attenborough, at NERC and NERC’s Director of Major Projects and Commercial.

NERC is part of UK Research and Innovation. Prior to his current role Nigel has served as the Programme Director for AIMP and the finance director of Economic and Social Research Council, UK Shared Business Services and NERC.

Nigel Bird is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, has a degree in Biology, an MBA in Global Business Strategy. Nigel has worked in senior leadership positions within the Research Council’s for 19 years.

Nigel’s key achievements to date include working and leading teams delivering: the successful design, build and operations of RRS James Cook and RRS Discovery; purchase and operation of BAE 146 Atmospheric Research Aircraft; reconfiguration of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Understanding Society the UK Household longitudinal study and marine infrastructure in Antarctica.

Non-executive director

Christine Foster is a commercial leader with data science and machine learning expertise. As CCO at The Alan Turing Institute, she is responsible for driving forward the institute’s goal to translate its data science and artificial intelligence research into real-world impact. Christine has been recognised in DataIQ's Most Influential People in Data and is forging collaborations between science, industry, public sector and third sector needs.

Previously, Christine has held roles at Virgin Media, Liberty Global, a fintech startup, American Express, and EMI Music. She has built diverse and talented technical teams and implemented both traditional analytics and machine learning algorithms into production, automating business-critical decisions and processes for profit and purpose.

Christine started her career as a strategy consultant with Bain & Company. She holds an MBA from INSEAD and a BA in economics from the University of Toronto

Non-executive director

Kim Shillinglaw has 30 years' experience in the Media Industry, as Controller of BBC2 and BBC4, Director of Factual for the UK's largest production entity EndemolShine, and Head of Commissioning for Science and Natural History amongst other roles. She is a Non-Exec Director of Natural England, a Non-Exec Director on Ofcom’s Content Board, a Trustee of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a tech education charity; and previously, of the innovation think tank, NESTA.

At EndemolShine, Kim turned around commercial companies, taking them from loss into profit ahead of a successful trade sale. At BBC2 and BBC4, she contemporised the channels with award winning shows from Muslims Like Us to the Black History of Britain, Wolf Hall and Britain’s first transgender sitcom Boy Meets Girl. She brought Women's Football to the channels and introduced the first non-white presenter of the RI's Christmas Lectures and the first female presenter of QI. As Head of Science and Natural History she was responsible for bringing new scale and ambition with programmes from Africa to Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II, and domestic brands like Springwatch and Stargazing Live. She led the BBC's acclaimed Year of Science which doubled audiences to the genre, brought new presenters such as Brian Cox and Liz Bonin to screen, as well as many other working scientists and female scientists. She instigated the corporation's largest outreach programme, the Make It Digital skills campaign, which reached 80% of the nation and delivered coding devices to every Year7 child in the country. Previously, she worked in Children’s Commissioning, where she created the multi-award winning Horrible Histories.

Kim Chaired the BBC's Commercial Income Taskforce, and the BBC's Factual Genre Board. She has advised organisations such as the RI, the Science Museum and the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre, sat on government panels for DCMS and BEIS, and on committees for the Royal Society, Edinburgh TV Festival and many others. She was educated at Holland Park Comprehensive and Oxford University.

Susan Waldron is Director of Research and Skills at NERC, a post she has held since January 2020. She is responsible for research programme generation, policy, funding, and delivery in the domains of Discovery Science, Talent and Skills, and International Partnerships.

Susan joins NERC with a 25-year academic career and experience of delivering research through almost all NERC funding streams: manager of NERC Life Sciences Community Stable Isotope Facility node hosted at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre; a NERC Advanced Fellowship; Discovery Science, Newton and Large Grant funding.  She was a core member of NERC’s Peer Review College from 2015-19 and a member of NERC Science Committee from 2016-2019. She values future talent investment, evidenced for example from roles as Dean of Graduate Studies for the College of Science and Engineering, and local Director of the NERC-DTP IAPETUS1, both at the University of Glasgow.

Susan is a Professor of Biogeochemistry and her background is in geology, and shallow Earth System Processes - particularly carbon and nutrient cycling, and in disturbed landscapes, with understanding enabled by isotope tracing and sensor technology. She joins NERC from the University of Glasgow.

Iain Williams is Director of Strategic Partnerships at NERC, a post he has held since January 2020, where he is responsible for national environmental science capability and capital programmes; interdisciplinary capability and programme delivery; and, the digital environment.   

Iain joined NERC after 20 years in numerous scientific roles in central government, including most recently Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), where he was responsible for Defra’s science and research strategy and funding, domestic and international partnerships, independent scientific advice, and the use of emerging and disruptive technologies and methods, including leading on Earth Observation policy. Iain was previously the Home Office Science and Technology Counsellor in the British Embassy in Washington DC, Chief of Staff to the Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser, Head of Science Quality in Defra and held various research programme manager roles.

Iain’s research background is entomology, epidemiology and population dynamics having held research posts at Imperial College, London and a PhD from the University of East Anglia.

Duncan received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Leeds in 1979 and a PhD from the University of Bath in 1984, both in physics. He joined University College London (UCL) in 1986, where he held lecturing posts at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory and the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering. He was appointed as a Chair in the Department of Space & Climate Physics in 1996, and was Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at UCL from 2005 to 2010.

Duncan was founder and Director of the NERC Centre for Polar Observation & 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 & Innovation Board of NERC and, since 2000, the lead investigator of the ESA CryoSat and CryoSat-2 satellite missions.

Duncan became Chief Executive of NERC on 1 January 2012, and then Executive Chair on 1 April 2018, when NERC became part of UK Research & Innovation.

NERC Management Board - Register of declared interests (PDF, 114KB)