Peer Review College Call for Membership 2019


The UK leads the world on research quality in environmental science. The question-driven research that NERC funds creates breakthroughs in understanding both the environment and human interactions with it, in the past, present and future. As the planet continues to change, revealing new insights through original inquiry remains central to our purpose. The advances and lasting benefits that discovery science delivers are demonstrable, driving policy change and catalysing innovation in the UK and worldwide. Our investment in discovery science spans the full breadth of sciences and methodologies required to advance our understanding of the Earth system and to reveal people’s impact on environmental processes that have evolved over thousands or millions of years.

The NERC Peer Review College

The NERC Peer Review College play a vital role in determining the research that NERC funds and in maintaining its quality. Peer Review College members are active researchers within the environmental science community, who are normally familiar with the NERC funding assessment process. The majority are academics based at universities, independent research organisations and NERC research centres. However, applications are also welcomed from members of the research end user community who are active in environmental science research from a policy or applied perspective and have strong interests in NERC science, its use and impact. The PRC consists of approximately six hundred and thirty eight members; nine panel chairs, one hundred and six core members and five hundred and twenty three college members.

PRC members agree to review up to the equivalent of eight proposals per year, (normally no more than three per Discovery Science scheme closing date). There is no limit to the number of meetings members may be asked to attend, but NERC will not normally issue more than three requests per year.

All appointments would start from 1 January 2020. PRC membership is open-ended and is reviewed bi-annually by NERC.

Current recruitment

NERC is recruiting for peer review college members, core panel members and panel chairs to refresh its current membership and support its peer review processes.  The main role of Peer Review College members is to provide reviews of discovery science research proposals (grants and fellowships), Highlight Topic grants and to participate in discovery science moderating panel meetings. However, members may also be asked to assess proposals to other NERC schemes within their area(s) of expertise, or advise on funding policy and process development.

We are looking for members with experience in all types of environmental science and members who work at the interface with other councils or who consider themselves to work across disciplines and who are happy to peer review multi-disciplinary proposals. We would also like to enhance membership covering some particular areas of expertise:

  • Animal behaviour ecology
  • Bird migration and behaviour
  • Coral reefs
  • Data/modelling
  • Deep sea benthic ecosystems
  • Glacial and cryospheric systems
  • Land use ecology
  • Large scale atmospheric dynamics and transport
  • Ocean-atmospheric interactions
  • Solar & Solar-terrestrial physics
  • Science based archaeology
  • Technology for environmental applications
  • Volcanic processes

Equality, diversity and inclusion

NERC is committed to the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion. An organisation’s success and competitiveness depends on its ability to embrace diversity and draw on the skills, understanding and experience of its people. The potential rewards of diversity are significant: utilising talent from the widest possible pool can make a major contribution to the impact of research and will benefit the economic and social wellbeing of the UK. Applications from women, those with a disability and members of minority ethnic groups, who are currently under-represented at senior levels in the research and innovation community and on the NERC Peer Review College, are therefore especially encouraged. 

NERC is happy to discuss any concerns an individual might have about whether they can actively participate in the College and what, if anything, NERC can do to enable their involvement.

Panel roles

We are seeking candidates for the following roles:

  • Peer Review College Members
    Peer Review College members will have a lead responsibility for completing reviews as part of the peer review process but they will be asked to attend moderating panels meetings where their expertise is required, according to the proposals submitted.

  • Core Panel Members
    Core members will be asked to complete reviews in the same way as other peer review college members but they will have lead responsibility for attending moderating panel meetings to ensure consistency within and between different panel areas and funding schemes. NERC will not normally issue more than three meeting requests per year.

    PRC members may also claim a meeting attendance fee. Memers who are employees of Government or other publicly funded bodies (including employees of any Research Council owned Centres) are not eligible to receive meeting fees.

  • Panel Chairs - Nine exceptional individuals are required to take on the key role of chairing our Discovery Science moderating panels, fellowship sift and interview panels, highlight topic panels and other panels, as required.

    In the first year of appointment, NERC will aim for successful applicants to  act as Deputy Chair for one of the scheduled DS panel meetings, before taking up the post of chair themselves in January 2021. Chairs will be recruited for four years (one year as a deputy plus three as a chair). They will be required to attend an annual chairs meeting and must be prepared to hold the dates for future Discovery Science moderating panel meetings.

Panel portfolio areas

NERC uses a three panel structure (PDF, 59KB) to manage the assessment of all discovery science standard, new investigator and fellowship calls. Each portfolio area covers a broad range of areas within the NERC remit. Successful applicants will be notionally allocated to one of the panel areas. However, the NERC office will use members' expertise as the primary driver for requesting reviews and participation in a panel meeting rather than the panel area to which they are assigned.

Conditions of membership

In accepting the invitation to join the college, all members are expected to agree to NERC's terms and conditions (PDF, 105KB) for membership.

Application process and timetable

Each application must be supported by a senior colleague. The supporting statement can be associated with different organisations if appropriate. Previous members are very welcome to apply again.

Applications must the completed online by 25 November 2019.

Applicants will be informed of decisions by the end of December 2019.

Selection process and criteria

We welcome UK-based applicants/nominees from all research backgrounds who are ready to make the necessary commitment to the peer review process. We will consider how applicants/nominees fit our criteria for membership (PDF, 113KB) for each role.

NERC peer review college chairs and members of Science Committee will be involved in the selection process. Membership will be posted on the NERC Peer Review College website when the recruitment has been finalised.

Further information on College membership is available online or by contacting: