RSE announces new membership of Scottish Science Advisory Committee

RSE announces new membership of Scottish Science Advisory Committee

For immediate release: 24 August 2004

Seventeen individuals who will help to shape the future of science and technology in Scotland have been appointed members of The Scottish Science Advisory Committee (SSAC), by The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). The SSAC is an independent Committee set-up in 2002, under the auspices of the RSE to provide independent advice to Scottish Executive Ministers on scientific issues of strategic importance.  Under the ongoing-Chairmanship of the eminent physicist, Professor Wilson Sibbett, CBE, FRS, FRSE, its newly appointed Committee will meet for the first time tomorrow (Wednesday 25 August) in Our Dynamic Earth where it is expected to plan its programme of work. Of the 17 members, 11 are new appointments, with 6 members of the Committee being re-appointed for a second term1*.  This scheduled refreshing of Committee membership is undertaken at regular intervals in order to promote a high level of new and innovative thinking and to ensure that the make-up of the Committee remains well in tune with its evolving programme.

In its first term, following wide-ranging consultation and meetings with stakeholders throughout Scotland, the SSAC published Science Matters: Making the Right Connections for Scotland (January 2004), one of the most comprehensive overviews of the science-base in Scotland to date.  In November 2003 its report: Why Science Education Matters, addressed key issues on the subject of supporting and improving science education in Scottish Schools.  The Committee will now seek to consolidate its work, providing advice and recommendations to the Executive on the strategic priorities for the science base in Scotland, including prioritisation on expenditure.

The broadly based membership of the Committee has been chosen by the Council of the RSE from over seventy high quality applications, received in response to public advertisements and widespread consultation.  The membership encompasses a spectrum of expertise in science, engineering and technology, business, education and public engagement.  Experts in their respective fields, the members who have been invited to take up these prestigious positions were selected on individual merit.  The members will serve on the Committee for up to two years.

The President of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, KT, FBA, PRSE said:

The range of expertise and breadth of experience represented in the SSAC’s membership make it a tremendous resource.  I am delighted that, under the Chairmanship of Professor Wilson Sibbett, it will continue to offer the Scottish Executive robust,  independent and valuable advice.

Professor Wilson Sibbett, CBE, FRS, FRSE, Chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Committee said:

I am delighted that we have been able to bring together such an outstanding group of talented individuals.  The Committee membership includes persons having a wide range of backgrounds covering scientific interests, expertise, and experiences which, when taken together, should provide a balance of perspectives and views.

I am looking forward to working with the committee members on the challenges that lie ahead in providing recommendations relating to the policies and priorities in science that can be expected to help shape the future of Scotland.

Full membership of the SSAC is:

+Professor Wilson Sibbett - Chair Scottish Science Advisory Committee and Wardlaw Professor of Physics, University of St Andrews

Professor Steven Beaumont - Director, Institute of System Level Integration

*Professor Geoffrey Boulton - Vice Principal and Regius Professor of Geology, University of Edinburgh

*Professor Muffy Calder - Head of Department and Professor of Computing Science, University of Glasgow

Professor Sir Kenneth Calman - Vice Chancellor, University of Durham

*Professor John Coggins - Dean of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow

Professor Julie Fitzpatrick - Chief Executive and Scientific Director of the Moredun Group

*Professor Peter Grant - Head of School of Engineering, University of Edinburgh

Professor Peter Morgan - Director of the Rowett Research Institute

*Dr Stuart Monro - Scientific Director, Our Dynamic Earth

Professor Richard Morris - Professor of Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh

Dr John Nicholls - CEO, Photonic Materials

Dr Barbara Spruce - Group Leader: Translational Cancer Research, University of Dundee

Professor Stuart Reid - Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology (joint position), University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde

Professor Jonathan Seckl - Head, School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine & Professor of Medicine, University of Edinburgh

Professor Joyce Tait - Director ESRC Innogen Centre, University of Edinburgh

Chris van der Kuyl - Founder, President and CEO of VIS entertainment Ltd

Graham Wren - Director, Scotland, AEA Technology plc


+ appointment does not come up for renewal at this time.

* denotes re-appointment to the SSAC.


Notes for Editors

Biographical Details: SSAC Members

Professor Wilson Sibbett CBE, FRS, FRSE, Chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Committee and Wardlaw Professor of Physics, University of St Andrews.  Professor Sibbett is recognised as a pioneer and world authority in ultrafast lasers, nonlinear optics and optoelectronics/photonics and he has published over 300 scientific journal papers in these areas.  His work has wide-ranging applications in the field of ultrafast science and technology, including optical communications and photobiology.  He is presently the Co-Technical Director of the St Andrews Photonics Innovation Centre which promotes the linkage of academic research to applications in industry, Director of an EPSRC-funded Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (Ultrafast Photonics Collaboration) on ultrahigh speed data-communications and Co-Director of a SHEFC-funded Strategic Research Development Grant on the application of photonics to biology and medicine.  He received the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics in 1997 and the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society for "Research into Ultrashort-pulse Laser Science and Technology" in 2000.  In 2002 he was awarded the Quantum Electronics Prize by the European Physical Society in recognition of the ‘excellence and enduring impact’ of his major research contributions.

Professor Steven Beaumont OBE, Ceng, MIEE, FRSE, Director of the Institute for System Level Integration and Professor of Nanoelectronics, University of Glasgow.  At ISLI Professor Beaumont is concerned with improving the links between industry and academic education and research.  His research interests focus on nanotechnology and its application in physical and biological sciences.  Professor Beaumont is a Director of Electronics Scotland, a member of the Technology Talent Strategy Board, a member of ITI Techmedia Advisory Board and a member of the Electronics Advisory Group, SEM Sector Skills Council.

Professor Geoffrey Boulton OBE, FGS, FRS, FRSE, Vice Principal and Regius Professor of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Edinburgh.  Professor Boulton is a member of the Committee for Science and Technology and Chairs its Science and Society subgroup.  He is also the Chair of SHEFC’s Knowledge Transfer Taskforce and of the Institute for Science Education in Scotland.  Professor Boulton has wide experience of chairing and serving on a broad range of UK and international scientific bodies.  His research, for which he has received a number of international awards, is concerned with global environmental change, with implications for issues such as the disposal of radioactive waste.

Professor Muffy Calder, FIEE, FRSE, Head of the Department of Computing Science and Professor of Computing Science, University of Glasgow.  Professor Calder’s research interests are in modelling and reasoning about the behaviour of complex software and biochemical systems using mathematics and automated reasoning tools.  She has long-standing industrial collaborations with many world-leading IT companies and has been a research fellow at BT Laboratories and DEC in California. She is a member of the IEE (Institution of Electrical Engineers) research policy group. Professor Calder has a particular interest in how science and technology are perceived outside academia and is particularly interested in developing a better public understanding of the science behind computer science.

Professor Sir Kenneth Calman KCB, FRCS, FRCP, FMedSci FRSE, Vice Chancellor, University of Durham.  Sir Kenneth has been Chief Medical Officer at the Scottish Office Home and Health Department and Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health in London.  He was Professor of Oncology and Dean of Postgraduate Medicine and Medical Education, University of Glasgow.  He has recently carried out a Review of Basic Medical Education in Scotland, for the Scottish Executive and currently chairs an expert group to review NHS genetic services and the application of new genetic knowledge in Scotland.

Professor John Coggins FRSE Director, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Dean, Faculty of Biomedical & Life Sciences and Professor of Molecular Enzymology, University of Glasgow.  Professor Coggins leads one of the largest unified academic biological and biomedical science departments in Europe.  His research interests focus on the enzymes involved in the biosynthesis of amino acids and nucleotides as potential targets for novel drugs and herbicides.  Professor Coggins is Vice President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Chairman of the Heads of University Biological Science Departments and a member of the Biochemical Society’s Executive Committee and Council.  He is also a Trustee of the Glasgow Science Centre.

Professor Julie Fitzpatrick MRCVS Chief Executive and Scientific Director of the Moredun Group.  Professor Fitzpatrick’s research interests focus on farm animal health and disease, animal welfare and food safety and quality.  She was previously Professor in Farm Animal Medicine at the University of Glasgow.  Professor Fitzpatrick is Senior Vice President to the Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers and is a member of the RCVS Research Committee.  She is also a member of the UK Veterinary Residues Committee, the UK Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs and the Veterinary Policy Group of the BVA.  In 1993 she was awarded the G Norman Hall Medal for research into animal diseases by the RCVS Trust.

Professor Peter Grant FREng, FRSE, FIEE, FIEEE Head of the School of Engineering & Electronics, and Professor of Electronic Signal Processing, University of Edinburgh.  Professor Grant’s primary research interests are applying signal and information processing techniques for application in mobile communication and radar systems.  In 2004 the IEE awarded its most prestigious honour, the Faraday Medal to Professor Grant in recognition of his outstanding work on signal processing.  Professor Grant was the IEEE Signal Processing Society distinguished lecturer on DSP for Mobile Communications in 1998, which took him on a lecturing tour to 25 countries.  He was previously President of EURASIP, the European Association for Signal, Speech and Image Processing.  He was the Chair of the Electronics and Electrical Engineering panel in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise serving previously on the 1992 and 1996 panels.  He was an IEE Proceedings editor for 18 years.   He is a director if the ISLI in Livingston, the Mobile VCE and the Edinburgh Technology Transfer Centre.  He also a member of the Supervisory Board for the Defence Technology Centre in “Electromagnetic and Remote Sensing” with an annual research spend of £5 M.

Dr Stuart Monro CGeol., FGS, ILTM, FRSSA : Scientific Director, Our Dynamic Earth and formerly Principal Geologist, British Geological Survey (BGS) in Edinburgh.  Dr Monro has made distinguished contributions to our understanding of the geology of central Scotland and in the application of geology to environmental issues through his work at the BGS.  He has significant experience of teaching geology at all levels in the Open University and has been a member of the Council of the Open University (1994-2002).  Dr Monro played a key role in establishing Our Dynamic Earth, and has ongoing responsibility for the scientific content of the exhibition.  He is co-convenor of the Steering Group of the Scottish Earth Science Education Forum (SESEF) and is a leading practitioner in promoting science to a wide audience.

Professor Peter Morgan FRSE, Scientific Director and Chief Executive of the Rowett Research Institute (RRI), Aberdeen and Honorary Professor of Zoology at the University of Aberdeen.  He is also a Director of Rowett Research Services a wholly owned subsidiary of RRI.  Professor Morgan Chairs the Committee of the Heads of the Agricultural and Biological Organisations of Scotland and sits on a number of steering groups of the Scottish Executive’s Chief Scientist’s Office.  He is heavily involved in European research initiatives, as a scientific advisor to the DIfE Human Nutrition Institute in Potsdam, Germany, and as a member of the Governing Council of the EU Framework VI Nutrigenomics Centre of Excellence programme. His personal research interests are in the area of molecular endocrinology, focusing on the molecular basis of body weight regulation with the aims of identifying novel genes and unravelling the complex pathways involved in energy homeostasis.  He is currently Vice President of the European Pineal and Biological Rhythms Society.

Professor Richard Morris FMedSci, FRS, FRSE, Professor of Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh.  Professor Morris’s research focuses on neurobiological mechanisms of memory, including studies of neurodegenerative disorders of memory such as Alzheimer's disease.  He is the life sciences co-oordinator of the Foresight Cognitive Systems Project, an initiative which has brought physical and life scientists together to provide a vision for the future development of cognitive systems through an exploration of recent advances in neuroscience and computer science.  Professor Morris holds an Adjunct Professorship of Psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, is President-Elect of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, a Guarantor of Brain, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust.

Dr John Nicholls Chief Executive, Photonic Materials Ltd., Bellshill.  A physicist by discipline, Dr Nicholls has been successful in commercialising his scientific research in both Scotland and the USA.  In 1998 he was awarded a Royal Society of Edinburgh/Scottish Enterprise Fellowship, which allowed him to establish the company Photonic Materials.  The business develops and manufactures novel optical crystal products for medical scanners and solid-state lasers.  Under Dr Nicholls’ direction the company has successfully transitioned from a telecommunications focus to target the medical imaging market.  Working with leading customers in the industry, Photonic Materials has introduced new detector crystals for next generation Positron Emission Tomography (PET) body scanners, used in cancer detection and treatment.  The company has established strong links with leading international institutions including a number of Scottish universities.

Professor Stuart Reid MRCVS, FRSE Professor of Veterinary Informatics and Epidemiology, Departments of Clinical Studies and Statistics and Modelling Science, Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde.  Professor Reid is also Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow. Professor Reid is a statistical epidemiologist in the fields of both human and veterinary medicine.   Based upon experience in clinical medicine, molecular biology, information science and quantitative epidemiology, his research interests are focused on the combined application of these disciplines in the development of inferential and predictive disease models to assist in approaches to the diagnosis, investigation and management of animal disease.  A vet with experience of the private and public sector, Professor Reid has worked in Africa, the USA, is a Visiting Professor at the University of Sydney, is President of the European College of Veterinary Public Health and a member of the UK Veterinary Products Committee.

Professor Jonathan Seckl FRCPE, FMedSci, FRSE, holds the Moncrieff-Arrnott Chair of Molecular Medicine, and is Head of the School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine at the University Of Edinburgh.  A practising clinician, he also holds an honorary consultant post with Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust.  Professor Seckl leads a large and successful multidisciplinary research group that is focused on steroid hormone action taking an approach that takes the science from “cloning to clinic”.

Dr Barbara Spruce MRCP, PhD Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Department of Surgery and Molecular Oncology, University of Dundee.  Dr Spruce was a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow in Clinical Science for a period of ten years between 1991 and 2001. Dr Spruce’s interests lie in translational cancer research, and in delivering the outputs of her research on cancer to the oncology clinic.  In 2003 Dr Spruce was awarded the inaugural Gannochy Trust Innovation Award of the Royal Society of Edinburgh for her work on innovative technology to fight cancer cells.  She has also been a recipient of a Scottish Enterprise Proof of Concept award and a Scottish Enterprise Tayside Commercialisation Fellowship, awards that have assisted the practical implementation of her research.  She has a particular interest in forging partnerships between academia and industry, to the benefit of both.

Professor Joyce Tait, Director, ESRC Centre for Social and Economic Research on Innovation in Genomics (Innogen), University of Edinburgh.  Innogen is studying the evolution of genomics and life sciences and their far-reaching social and economic implications.  Professor Tait has an interdisciplinary background in natural and social sciences including risk assessment and regulation, policy analysis, technology management in the agrochemical and biotechnology industries, strategic and operational decision making in companies and public bodies, public attitudes and communication.  She is a member of the Scientific and Technical Council of International Risk Governance Council and is a past President of the Society for Risk Analysis - Europe.  Professor Tait was Director of the SHEFC-funded Scottish Universities Policy Research Advice Network (SUPRA) and was Deputy Director of Research and Advisory Services for Scottish Natural Heritage.

Chris van der Kuyl FRSE: Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of VIS entertainment ltd, which creates leading-edge entertainment property for leading games platforms worldwide.  Following the acquisition of VIS by BAM Entertainment! earlier this year, he becomes President and COO of the parent company.  Chris is acknowledged widely as one of the leading young entrepreneurs in Scotland and has won various awards.  Between 2000-2002, Chris was a member of the Global Leaders of Tomorrow Programme at the World Economic Forum.  He is committed to encouraging entrepreneurship in schools, colleges and universities.  He is Chairman of Young Enterprise Scotland and a Director of Schools Enterprise Scotland.  In 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Napier University, Edinburgh.

Eur Ing Graham Wren BSc, MSc, Director, Scotland AEA Technology.  Graham Wren has a background in engineering design and project management but now focuses on managing the interface between basic ideas and commercialisation.  He has been responsible for a number of start up companies and he has a key interest in the growth of scientific based companies in Scotland.  His responsibilities include the establishment of AEAs new Technology Centre in Scotland.  Graham Wren is a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and a Member of the Institute of Directors.  He is a Chartered Engineer and one of the UK’s first Chartered Directors.

Dr Avril Davidson BSc, PhD Head of Secretariat Scottish Science Advisory Committee:  (not a Committee member).  Dr Davidson joined the SSAC team from the University of Glasgow where she has worked in the Research Office, the Research and Enterprise Office and the Student Recruitment and Admissions Service.  While at the University of Glasgow she was seconded to the Scottish Executive, Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Department, where she worked on the development of the Executive's first integrated science strategy, A Science Strategy for Scotland.  She originally studied pharmacology at the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh.

One member of the Committee has declared non-office-bearing membership of a political party. Other than this, Committee Members have declared non-involvement in any political activity.

The Chair, Professor Wilson Sibbett receives a stipend which is in the region of £400 per diem.  Members of the Committee do not receive payment.

The Scottish Science Advisory Committee (SSAC)

The Scottish Science Advisory Committee (SSAC) is an independent Committee, established under the auspices of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) with funding from the Scottish Executive, to provide advice to Scottish Ministers on science strategy, science priorities and science policy to allow the Scottish Executive to make effective use of available scientific advice, knowledge and techniques in formulating and implementing policies to supporting the full range of its objectives. Further details can be found at:

SSAC Remit

With reference to the strategic relevance to the Scottish economy and quality of life, to provide advice and make recommendations on the strategic priorities for the science base in Scotland, including priorities for expenditure.


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