Minister announces new appointments bringing talent and diversity to NERC

12 June 2015

Minister for Universities & Science Jo Johnson today announced the appointment of five new members and the re-appointment of two existing members to NERC.

Joining the Council for a period of four years are:

  • Ms Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy
  • Ms Leslie Heasman, managing director and principal consultant, MJCA
  • Mr Imran Khan, chief executive of the British Science Association
  • Professor Guy Orpen, deputy vice chancellor, University of Bristol
  • Professor Lesley Yellowlees, vice principal and head of College of Science & Engineering, University of Edinburgh

Lord Willis and Professor Georgina Mace have also been reappointed to NERC's Council for a second term.

The new appointments are effective from 1 August 2015. Lord Willis will remain on the Council for a further four years, with Professor Mace staying onboard for a further three years.

Sir Anthony Cleaver, chair of NERC, said:

"I'm delighted to welcome our new members to NERC Council and pleased that we will continue to benefit from the wisdom and insight of our continuing members. Between them they bring huge and invaluable experience from academia, research users and business, and will bring diverse perspectives along with a broad range of knowledge and a good understanding of NERC's critical role in improving our quality of life and growing economies while living within the Earth's limits.

NERC plays a vital role in maintaining the UK's world-leading reputation for excellent environmental science research, and I look forward to our new members' participation in the Council's future decisions towards upholding that reputation."

Council members have corporate responsibility for all NERC's actions and those of its staff. They decide on NERC's strategic priorities and performance objectives, financial management and deployment of major resources.

These new and continuing appointments bring the balance of men and women members of NERC Council to a 50:50 split.

Ms Juliet Davenport

Juliet has been working in the area of renewables and energy policy for the past 20 years and is recognised as an expert in this area, receiving an OBE for her work in 2012. She set up Good Energy, a UK supplier of 100% renewable electricity, with the purpose of developing a company that would create a new blueprint for the energy market, addressing climate change through the delivery of a low carbon, renewable energy market in the UK. She graduated from Merton College, Oxford with a degree in physics. She holds an MSc from Birkbeck College in economics and an honorary degree from Plymouth University. Juliet sits on various representation bodies including Energy UK, the Sustainable Development Advisory Group for OFGEM and the South East Physics Network Advisory Panel.

Ms Leslie Heasman

Leslie has a BSc in environmental chemistry from the University of Edinburgh and is the principal environmental chemist and managing director of MJCA, a specialist environmental consultancy. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a member of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and has more than 30 years of experience of working in the wastes and mineral sectors. In her role as managing director of MJCA Leslie has commercial, management, financial and personnel experience built up over her years of successful, hands-on experience as a part-owner, board director and current managing director.

Leslie has particular interest and expertise in the assessment and control of chemical contaminants in the aquatic, atmospheric and soil environments. She has had a long-term involvement in helping to define the gaps in science and applied knowledge in the sphere of contaminant fate and transport and has been involved in numerous programmes to identify and prioritise the actions necessary to fill those gaps. Leslie is an active member of several industry groups who work to develop and share best practice and experience for the waste industry.

Mr Imran Khan

Imran is chief executive of the British Science Association, an institution dedicated to making science a more fundamental part of our culture and society. A biologist by training, he believes that society will benefit from stronger engagement between environmental scientists and the public.

Imran was previously director of the Campaign for Science & Engineering (CaSE), and worked in Westminster as a political researcher. He serves as trustee of the technology-focused international development charity Practical Action, and is a member of the board of the Longitude Prize. He has been named by The Times as one of the ten most influential people in British science under the age of 40.

He has studied at the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and Cass Business School, and heard every joke you can think of about the cricketer.

Professor Guy Orpen

Guy Orpen is deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Bristol, a role he has held since 2014. He previously served as pro vice-chancellor (Research & Enterprise) from 2009-14, in which role he held strategic oversight of the university's research and its engagement with society and industry. He is chair of the board of the GW4 research alliance with Bath, Exeter and Cardiff universities; serves on the board of Bristol Health Partners (the city's academic health sciences collaboration) and is a non-executive director of the University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust. He has chaired the UK National Composites Centre, and served on the executive board of the SETsquared Partnership (for enterprise, with the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey). He has chaired the Board of Trustees of the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre and previously served as head of the School of Chemistry (2001-06) and dean of the Faculty of Science (2006-09).

Professor Lesley Yellowlees

Professor Yellowlees is currently vice principal and head of the College of Science & Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked with the Royal Society of Chemistry and was their first female president (2012-14). Among her current research interests are inorganic electrochemistry and spectroelectrochemistry, utilisation of CO2, public engagement of science and promoting women in science. She was awarded an MBE in 2005 for services to science, a CBE in 2014 for her services to chemistry, and was admitted as a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2012. Lesley is married to Peter and they have two children, Sarah and Mark.

NERC media office
01793 411568
07785 520929


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.

Lord Willis has been a member of the Liberal/Liberal Democrat Party since 1985, was a councillor from 1988 to 1999, a Member of Parliament from 1997 to Dec 2010 and is currently a Member of the House of Lords.

Mr Khan has canvassed on behalf of a political party or helped at elections during the past five years. Ms Davenport has made a recordable donation to a political party during the past five years. No other members declared any political activity.

2. In terms of other public appointments held, Professor Mace was appointed by DEFRA as a member of the Natural Capital Committee in October 2012 for three years and receives £7,200 per annum.

No other new members hold any other public appointments.

3. The newly appointed members will receive an honorarium of £6,850 per annum.

4. Biographies for all current NERC Council members are available.

5. NERC is the UK's leading commissioner of environmental science research, investing £330 million each year in cutting-edge research, postgraduate training and innovation in universities and research centres. Our scientists study and monitor the physical, chemical and biological processes on which our planet and life itself depends - from pole to pole, from the deep Earth and oceans to the atmosphere and space.

6. NERC's partnerships with business, government and the public deliver knowledge, skills and technology that meet the UK's innovation needs and support economic growth with responsible environmental management.

7. These partnerships also help address key societal challenges, helping business, government and society benefit from natural resources, build resilience to environmental hazards and manage environmental change.