NERC announces Council members

6 March 2018

We are pleased to announce the appointment of the NERC Council which will be effective from 1 April 2018. This board is a combination of previously serving Council members, existing members and new members to ensure a broad range of expertise and experience is represented, as we commence upon the creation of UK Research & Innovation.

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) is a new organisation that, from 1 April 2018, will bring together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England to establish nine councils, each with their own fields of activity and led by an Executive Chair. Each Executive Chair will be supported by a Council of up to 12 members.

NERC Council members represent research and innovation across higher education, industry and commerce, policy and/or civil society, reflecting different characteristics and professional backgrounds. The Councils will have a pivotal role in ensuring the success of UKRI, helping it achieve its strategic objectives to be the single, strong voice of UK research and innovation, and building on our world-leading reputation.

Professor Duncan Wingham, Chief Executive and Executive Chair Designate of NERC, said:

UKRI provides us with new opportunities to thread environmental science into solutions to the societal and business challenges we face. Environmental science is pivotal to ensuring prosperity in harmony with the environment. I am confident that our new Council has the professional expertise and experience to ensure NERC meets these challenges. I look forward to working with our new Council to achieve them.

The nine members appointed to the NERC Council are:

Nick Folland (Senior Independent Member)

Nick FollandNick is a former Chief Executive of the Crown Prosecution Service. Whilst in this role, he was simultaneously responsible for a £300 million cross-government IT change programme, delivering fundamental reform of the criminal justice system.

Prior to that, Nick was Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive Officer and Chief External Affairs Officer of the Co-op, playing a pivotal role in saving the Co-op Bank and rescuing the group from its existential crisis in 2013 and then reforming the organisation's governance.

Nick joined the Co-op from Kingfisher plc, a FTSE 100 international retailer, where he was a member of the retail board and held a number of executive positions over the period 2007-13. He led the development of the international sustainability strategy 'Net Positive' and was also responsible for the group's Government Affairs & Regulatory programme.

Nick has extensive governance experience, having been Group Legal Director, General Counsel and Company Secretary for FTSE 100 businesses for over a decade, originally qualifying as a solicitor at Linklaters & Paines in 1993.

Professor Louise Heathwaite BSc PhD FRSE FRSB

Professor Louise HeathwaiteLouise is a hydrochemist and recognised internationally as an authority on understanding the sources and hydrological pathways of diffuse agricultural pollution from land to water, and for work developing the critical source areas (CSAs) concept, which forms the cornerstone of many models of diffuse pollution risk worldwide. She is an active scientist with over 160 Institute for Scientific Information-listed publications, and continuous funding from the research councils, government and government agencies. Louise was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2015, and President of the Freshwater Biological Association in 2017.

Louise joined Lancaster University in 2004 as founder and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Water Management. In 2018, she was appointed to a newly created position as Cross-Faculty Associate Dean for Research in the university. Louise has significant experience of both research council and government environments.

Between 2012-17 she was Scottish Government Chief Scientific Adviser on Rural Affairs, Food & Environment. There, she was responsible for ensuring the integration and effective use of evidence in policy ranging from climate change to food security, and from land use and biodiversity to animal health. She undertook part-time secondment to NERC from 2008-12, where she was successful in securing over £40 million of new strategic research investments aligned to the sustainable use of natural resources theme. She has also served on Defra's Science Advisory Council (2011-17) and held an ex-officio position on NERC Council from 2012-17.

Professor Gideon Henderson

Gideon Henderson Gideon is a geochemist working to understand the ocean, the carbon cycle, and the long-term operation of the climate system. His research falls into two main areas - making novel measurements on natural archives to quantify climate processes important for future change (such as sea level, rainfall patterns, permafrost stability); and the chemistry of the modern ocean, including study of the carbon cycle, nutrient metals, contaminants, and tracers used to assess ocean processes.

Gideon helped initiate the international programme which has revolutionised knowledge of the chemical cycling of metals in the ocean, and was co-chair of this programme for its first decade. He is a professor at the Department of Earth Sciences (of which he was Head for 2013-17) at the University of Oxford. He also holds a senior research fellowship at University College Oxford, and an associate position at Columbia University, USA.

Gideon was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2013, now serves on the Royal Society Science Policy Committee, and has contributed to recent policy work in subjects including ocean resources and greenhouse gas removal.

Professor Stephen Holgate CBE FMedSci

Stephen HolgateStephen is Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton, with a research interest in the mechanisms of asthma and allergy. He has over 1,000 peer-reviewed publications and an h-index of 157. He has been President of the British Society for Allergy & Clinical Immunology, the British Thoracic Society and is currently President of the British Association for Lung Research and the Collegium Internationale Allergologicum.

He has been Chair of the MRC Population & Systems Medicine Board, the MRC Translational Research Group, a member of the MRC and NERC Strategy Boards, and chaired the Main Panel A (Medical & Life Sciences) of Research Excellence Framework 2014. Stephen chaired the UK Government Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, the Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards, the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee and was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.

His contributions have been recognised by a number of awards, including The King Faisal and the J Allyn Taylor International Prizes in Medicine, and honorary degrees from the universities of Ferrara, Krakow, Naples and Exeter. He was a founder member of the Academy of Medical Sciences, served on its council and is Founder Chair of the Clinical & Veterinary Section of the Academia Europaea and council member.

Imran Khan

Imran KhanImran is Head of Public Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation that exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas to thrive. He has also served as Chief Executive of the British Science Association and Director of the Campaign for Science & Engineering. A biologist by training, he believes that society will benefit from stronger engagement between environmental scientists and the public.

Imran worked in Westminster as a political researcher and as a science writer. He is trustee of the innovation foundation Nesta and the technology-focused international development charity Practical Action. He has studied at the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and Cass Business School.

Professor Karin Lochte

Karin LochteProfessor Karin Lochte studied biology, chemistry and philosophy in Germany and the UK, and earned her PhD from the University of Wales in 1985. Her research addressed biological turnover of carbon and nitrogen in the ocean and its impact on climate processes. She held professorships for biological oceanography at the universities in Kiel, Rostock and Bremen. She received an honorary doctor's degree from the University Oldenburg and Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Karin led the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar & Marine Research (Germany) as Director from 2007 to 2017. As such, she was responsible for one the largest polar research institutions and for large infrastructure and logistics including icebreaker RV Polarstern, aircraft and several polar stations in the Arctic and Antarctica.

She currently serves as Vice-President of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, as board member of the International Arctic Science Committee, was Chair of the European Climate Research Alliance and is involved in numerous further research and advisory committees.

Gordon McGregor

Gordon McGregorGordon is founder and Director of a technology start up Spot Sensor Technologies Ltd, a company that designs and manufactures low power Internet of Things (IoT) connected sensor devices for air quality, water management, soil condition and infrastructure management. He also acts as a management consultant in the energy and environmental sphere.

He also has more than two decades of experience working in the energy and utility sector, including serving as Environment & Innovation Director in a major UK plc where he led the company's efforts on environmental management, regulation and research & development for the group.

Gordon has a BEng in electronic engineering from the University of Glasgow, an MBA from Heriot Watt University and an LLM in environmental law from the University of Aberdeen. He is passionate about the environment and is also currently serving as Chair of the WWF Advisory Board in Scotland and sits on the Country Committee for the RSPB in Scotland.

Professor Dame Julia Slingo OBE DBE DSc FRS HonFRSC HonFInstP HonFRMetS

Julia SlingoDame Julia Slingo served as Chief Scientist of the UK Met Office from 2009 to 2016, when she retired. At the Met Office she led a team of more than 500 scientists working on a broad portfolio of research that underpins weather forecasting, climate predictions and climate change projections. Through her career, she has worked at the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Reading University. In her retirement, she has taken on a number of advisory roles, including Special Advisor on Science to the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation.

Dame Julia has brought innovative approaches to understanding and modelling weather and climate. She has developed and used complex weather and climate models to deliver new insights into how the atmosphere and climate system works, as well as significant advances in predictive skill and climate services. Her special interests are tropical weather and climate variability.

Amongst other awards, Dame Julia was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2015 and Foreign Member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 2016.

Lord Willis of Knaresborough

Lord WillisLord Willis was educated at the City of Leeds & Carnegie College and Birmingham University. He spent 20 years as head teacher of two large urban comprehensives before entering Parliament in 1997, becoming Shadow Secretary of State for Education & Skills prior to being elected Chair of the Science & Technology Select Committee in 2005.

Awarded a peerage in 2010, Phil sat on the Science & Technology Committee until 2015 and dedicates much of his time to research in areas including science & innovation and health policy. He was a co-author of the recently published report into the future viability of the NHS and social care. He chaired the Association of Medical Research Charities until 2015 and was awarded an honorary doctorate of science from Salford University in 2013 for his work on evidence-based policymaking. Following his seminal report on graduate nurse education in 2012, he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing and has recently been awarded an honorary doctorate of science from City University London.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Policy Board of the Royal Society and the Foundation for Science & Technology. He chaired the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and Wellcome Trust Health Innovation Challenge Fund Review and was appointed Chair of the NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research & Care for Yorkshire and Humber in 2014.

He recently led the Health Education England 'Shape of Caring Review' into the education and training of nursing and health care staff where his proposal to introduce the Nursing Assistant post has resulted in 2,000 students being trained this year. He was a member of the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC), sponsoring board set up to nursing standards and is currently leading a groundbreaking proposal to set up the first ever Doctoral Training Centre for Nursing and is leading Health Education England's development of training and education for mental health professionals and support staff.

Lord Willis continues his involvement with education as visiting lecturer at several universities, including York, London City and Nottingham, and is acting as a consultant to Health Education England and to NMC.

Attending in a personal capacity:

Professor Ian Boyd

Ian BoydProfessor 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 Defra.

He is a marine and polar environmental scientist who has spent much of his research career studying ocean dynamics using predators as indicators of production. Much of his research has examined the management of human impacts on the marine environment. He has authored or edited more than 10 books and over 180 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

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 has been a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Zoology and is on the board of Reviewing Editors of Science.

In his role as Chief Scientific Adviser at Defra he regularly advises ministers and is responsible for the strategic leadership of science, evidence and analysis across the Defra Group, including several major bodies like the Environment Agency and Natural England. He has co-authored or led major reports on animal and plant health, the future of the seas and waste and resource efficiency.

Professor Boyd has received numerous honours and awards recognising his contributions to science, including the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the Bruce Medal for his research in polar science and the Polar Medal. He was been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's National Academy, in 2002 and is a Fellow of the Society of Biology. He has an honorary DSc from the University of Exeter, a DSc from the University of Aberdeen and a PhD from Cambridge University.

The Council members will work with their Executive Chair to deliver their Council's aims and objectives and to support UKRI's overall mission to maintain the UK's world-leading position in research and innovation. The Council members will also provide their Executive Chairs, and UKRI more widely, with input, intelligence and feedback from their communities and stakeholder groups. The Councils will act as critical friends to the UKRI councils.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, UK Research & Innovation Chief Executive Designate, commented:

I am delighted to welcome these new Council members. Their stimulus, support and challenge will provide a critical role in the development of strategy and the governance of UK Research & Innovation. The diversity of their personal backgrounds, experience and expertise will ensure that we make the very best choices in how to invest wisely in research and innovation, and develop capability and capacity for the future.

Further information

Jo Thompson
Head of Communication Campaigns
07864 601852

Andrea Turner
NERC Council Secretariat
01793 411799


1. UKRI is a new organisation that, from 1 April 2018, will bring together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and Research England. The aim is to create a system that maximises the contribution of each council and creates the best environment for research and innovation to flourish. The vision is to be the best research and innovation organisation in the world.

2. The appointments to Council are made in accordance with the Code of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

3. 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 appointees' political activity (if any declared) to be made public. No political activity has been declared by any appointee.

4. Appointees each receive an annual remuneration of £6,850 for their position on Council.

5. None of the appointees currently holds any ministerial public appointment.

6. Under the Higher Education & Research Act, each of the nine councils within UKRI has a Council comprising the Executive Chair and between 5-12 ordinary members. Council members are appointed by the UKRI Board in consultation with the relevant Executive Chair. The Secretary of State may appoint one of the members, and is entitled to attend any Council meeting (or nominate a representative to attend).

7. Senior Independent Member: One member will be appointed as Senior Independent Member with a direct communication channel to the UKRI Board and Chief Executive.

8. Councils will want to call on the best expertise and advice as required to fulfil their functions. As such, UKRI will ask civil servants (including but not limited to Chief Scientific Advisors), to join the Council in a personal capacity.