Eighteen 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). Set up under the auspices of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, The SSAC is a high-powered, independent body, created to identify priorities, inform policy in science and technology and advise Scottish Executive Ministers on issues of scientific importance. Under the Chairmanship of Professor Wilson Sibbett, the committee will work to help develop policies and practices in science which promote the social and economic wellbeing of Scotland.
The creation of the SSAC is a key part of the first Science Strategy for Scotland, launched last year by the Minister for Science, Wendy Alexander, MSP. The Committee will monitor progress and advise Executive Ministers on how the Strategy is being implemented across departments. Professor Sibbett, as chair, will also act as chief advisor on science to the Scottish Executive.
The broadly based membership of the Committee has been chosen by the RSE’s Council from over seventy high quality applications received in response to public advertisements and widespread consultation. The membership encompasses a broad range of expertise in science and technology, business, ethics, education and public life. Experts in their respective fields, the members who have been invited to take up these prestigious, voluntary1* positions were selected on individual merit. It is anticipated that members will serve on the Committee for at least two years. In seeking 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, the RSE will review the SSAC’s membership on a regular basis. The Committee will meet for the first time on Tuesday 7 May at its offices, located within the George Street premises of the RSE in Edinburgh.
RSE President and former UK Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir William Stewart said:
I am delighted that The Royal Society of Edinburgh was invited to set up this key body which has been deliberately broadly based to ensure a wide spectrum of inputs. The Committee will focus on the crucial role which science and technology must play if Scotland is to prosper and if our environment is to be protected. I am particularly pleased that Wilson Sibbett has agreed to chair the Committee, which, I am sure will offer the Scottish Executive robust, independent and valuable advice.
Professor Wilson Sibbett, Chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Committee (SSAC), and chief advisor on science to the Scottish Executive, said:
I am extremely pleased that we have been able to bring together such a talented and diverse group of individuals. We have a range of scientific interest, expertise, and experience which, when taken together, provides us with a very strong and well balanced committee. I am looking forward to working with the committee members on the challenges that lie ahead and to providing recommendations relating to the policies and priorities in science that can be expected to shape the future of Scotland.
The full membership of the SSAC is:
Professor Wilson Sibbett CBE, BSc, PhD, FRS, FRSE: Chair of SSAC and Wardlaw Professor of Physics, University of St Andrews.
Professor Sibbett was a member of the Joint Working Group of The Royal Society of London and The Royal Society of Edinburgh, which produced the highly influential report, Devolution and Science2*, published in April 1999. He is widely recognised as a world authority in laser physics and optoelectronics. Professor Sibbett's work has wide-ranging applications in the field of ultrafast science and technology, including optical communications and photobiology. He was the recipient of the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics in 1997, The Mitutoyo - NPL Frontier Science and Measurement Award in 1998 and the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society of London for "Research into Ultrashort-Pulse Laser Science and Technology" in 2000.
Professor Geoffrey Boulton OBE, BSc, PhD, DSc, FGS, FRS, FRSE: Vice Principal and Regius Professor of Geology and Mineralogy, University of Edinburgh.
Professor Boulton is currently Chairman of the SHEFC Research Policy Advisory Committee; the SHEFC/Scottish Enterprise Working Group which has just published the report, Research and Knowledge Transfer in Scotland; and the implementation committee to create an Institute for Science Education in Scotland. Professor Boulton also has experience of chairing and serving on a wide 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 Jane Bower BSc, MBA, MA/FPM, PhD, IMC: Professor of Entrepreneurship, Glasgow Caledonian University.
Originally trained as a biomedical researcher, Professor Bower developed an interest in the transfer of biotechnology and its commercialisation in both small and large firms. She set up the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Aberdeen where she designed undergraduate and postgraduate courses in entrepreneurship. Professor Bower subsequently directed a project management consultancy with responsibility for a range of projects including designing and raising finance for an oilfield technology venture capital fund, rolled out in 1999 as the Nova Fund.
Dr Donald Bruce BSc, PhD, Dip Theol.: Director of the Society, Religion and Technology Project, Church of Scotland since 1992.
The SRT Project is a unique unit established in 1970 to explore the ethical implications of current and future technology, from North Sea Oil to GM crops and stem cells. Dr Bruce chairs an expert group on genetic engineering in animals, crops and micro-organisms which was a pioneering engagement of the scientific community with the ethical and social dimension. The resulting book, Engineering Genesis, has been widely acclaimed for its balance and insight. Dr Bruce is engaged in a diverse range of topics with a wide variety of UK and international organisations, from both the private and public sectors. These include the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the British and American Associations for the Advancement of Science, the Conference of European Churches, the Council of Europe Bioethics Committee, the European Commission and Parliament, the Edinburgh International Science Festival, The Scottish Civic Forum, Friends of the Earth, Going for Green (Encams), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, PPL Therapeutics, Scottish Agricultural College and UNESCO. Dr Bruce originally trained as a chemist and worked for 15 years in chemistry research, energy policy assessment, and safety and risk analysis in the nuclear energy industry.
Professor Muffy Calder BSc, PhD, CEng: Professor of Computing Science, University of Glasgow.
Professor Calder’s research interests are in modelling and reasoning about the behaviour of complex software systems using mathematics and automated reasoning tools. She has long standing industrial collaborations with many world leading IT companies. She sits on the board of the National eScience Centre, which has been established to stimulate and sustain the development of e-Science in the UK, to contribute significantly to the international development of e-science and to ensure that its techniques are rapidly propagated to commerce and industry. In addition, 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 John Coggins MA, PhD, 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. As the Research Awards Convenor of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Coggins has a particular interest in the career development of young scientists.
Dr Graham Durant BSc, PhD: Deputy Director, Hunterian Museum, University of Glasgow.
A geologist by training, Dr Durant has a very active interest in promoting the communication of science. He was the Founder and Director of the Glasgow Dome of Discovery and Director of Science at the Glasgow Science Centre (GSC), Scotland’s largest Millennium project. He is now an Honorary Associate Director of the GSC. In addition he is a member of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, Public Understanding of Science and Technology Panel and Chairman of their awards panel. Dr Durant is also a member of the Science Communication Advisory Panel of the Scottish Science Trust.
Professor Tariq Durrani BEng, MSc, PhD, FREng, FIEEE, FIEE, FRSE:
Deputy Principal and Professor of Signal Processing, University of Strathclyde. Professor Durrani has led one of Europe's largest research groups on signal and image processing. As Deputy Principal he currently has responsibility for staff development, entrepreneurship and lifelong learning. He has played a key role in establishing a strategic relationship between the University of Strathclyde and Carnegie Mellon University in the USA. Professor Durrani is also a Director of The Scottish Institute for Enterprise, the Institute for System Level Integration, Lanarkshire Technology and Innovation Centre and the Scottish Electronics Technology Group. He is a Member of the Board of Councillors, Centre of Excellence on Immersive Media, University of Southern California, and of the Technical Activities and Education Board of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world's largest body of professional engineers.
Mrs Sarah Fletcher BSc, MSc, DipEd, PGCE, PGCG:
Principal Teacher of Physics, High School of Dundee. Mrs Fletcher has considerable experience in the fields of science and education. Her career has involved scientific medical research, lecturing physics to university science and engineering students, and teaching science in secondary schools. She is also qualified in careers education and guidance. As an Examiner for the Scottish Qualifications Authority, she is very experienced in the courses and standards of assessments required for the national testing of Physics.
Professor Margaret Gill BSc, PhD, BA: Director of the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen and Honorary Professor in the Department of Agriculture and Forestry at the University of Aberdeen.
Professor Gill has significant experience in managing both applied and strategic research on natural resources in both the public and private sectors, having held senior positions with The Natural Resources Institute and NR International. She is also a Member of Council of the Royal Veterinary College, a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Livestock Research Institute and a Member of the Strategic Advisory Group to AgResearch, New Zealand. A livestock nutritionist originally, her current research interests relate to the interactions between livestock and the environment.
Professor Peter Grant BSc, PhD, FREng, FIEE, FIEEE, FRSE: Head (designate for August 2002) of School of Engineering & Electronics, The University of Edinburgh.
Currently Head of Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering and Electronics Planning Unit and Professor of Electronic Signal Processing, University of Edinburgh. His primary research interests are applying signal and information processing techniques for application in mobile communication and radar systems. Professor Grant was the IEEE Signal Processing Society distinguished lecturer on DSP for Mobile Communications, 1998, which took him on a lecturing tour to 25 countries. He is currently 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 chairs the Editorial Advisory Panel for the IEE Electronics and Communications Engineering Journal, having served, prior to this, as a Proceedings editor for 18 years.
Professor Sally Macintyre OBE, FMedSci, BA, MSc, PhD, FRSE: Director, MRC Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow.
Professor Macintyre is a social scientist by training whose research career has focused on the field of health where she has published widely on the patterning of health by gender, socio-economic status and place of residence. Professor Macintyre also has a broad interest in the physical and biological sciences, and their role in society and has at different times been President of the Sociology and Social Policy section and the Medical Science section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. She is currently the Chair of the Clinical Standards Board for Scotland, Project Group on Post Mortem and Organ Retention and a member of the MRC Horizon Scanning Group.
Dr John Nicholls BSc PhD: 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, Enterprise Fellowship which allowed him to establish his company Photonic Materials in Scotland. Photonic Materials develops and produces novel crystal products for fibre-optic communication components, medical scanners and solid-state lasers. The company has established strong links with leading international institutions including a number of Scottish Universities.
Professor Andrea Nolan MVB, MRCVS, DVA, PhD, Dipl.ECVA, Dip.EVCPT:
Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Professor of Veterinary Pharmacology, University of Glasgow. Professor Nolan is the first female Dean of a Veterinary Faculty in the UK and Ireland and has recently been appointed Chair of the Committee of UK Heads of Veterinary Schools. She is a member of the UK Veterinary Products Committee and an honorary member of the Association of Veterinary Teachers and Research Workers. Professor Nolan was recently a recipient of a Pfizer academic award for animal health research.
Mr Ian Ritchie BSc, CEng, FREng, FBCS, FRSE:
Ian Ritchie has been actively engaged in the commercial development of new technology, mainly from advances in computer science research for the past 20 years. He founded OWL, a pioneer of hypertext technology, which was acquired by Panasonic. He was active in the start-ups of and serves as the non-executive Chairman of Voxar Ltd, Digital Bridges Ltd, Active Navigation Ltd, and is the Deputy Chairman of VIS Entertainment plc. He is also a Director of Scottish Enterprise, Channel Four Television Corporation, the EPIC Group plc, Mindwarp Pavilion Ltd and the SCRAN Millennium Project. Through his membership of SCRAN, the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and the Bletchley Park Trust he has become actively involved with public understanding of science, and is a member of the board of the Scottish Science Trust.
Professor John Savill BA, MBChB, PhD, FRCP, FRCPE, FMed Sci: Professor of Medicine and Director of the MRC/University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research.
A clinical academic, Professor Savill combines clinical work in acute general medicine and renal medicine with directing research in the Centre for Inflammation Research (CIR). The CIR is a new research centre established through significant MRC/University of Edinburgh funding which aims to promote the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory diseases through interdisciplinary study of inflammatory responses and provision of an outstanding environment for research training in the field. Professor Savill has substantial experience of serving on MRC and medical research charity committees and is currently a Governor of the PPP Foundation.
Professor David Wallace CBE, DL, FRS, FREng, FRSE: Vice Chancellor, Loughborough University.
Professor Wallace was previously Tait Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Edinburgh, and Director of Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre. He is currently Chair of the DTI e-Science Steering Committee and chaired the DTI TCS Quinquennial Review. He is a member of Council of The Royal Society of London, and a former member of Council of SERC and EPSRC. Professor Wallace is a Director of Taylor & Francis Group plc and UK e-Universities Worldwide Ltd, and was formerly a Director of the Scottish Life Assurance Company. He is also President-elect of the Institute of Physics.
Dr John Whitelock BSc, PhD: Team Leader, Applied Sciences, Fife College of Further & Higher Education.
Dr Whitelock has extensive experience in developing and delivering science based courses across a wide range of levels and subject disciplines in both the university and FE college sectors, more recently being instrumental in establishing the Scottish Colleges Biotechnology Consortium, which aims to provide technician training for the biotechnology industry. Dr Whitelock is actively involved in promoting school-college links to help inspire school pupils to study science and to provide CPD training courses for science teachers and technicians.
Head of Secretariat - Dr Avril Davidson BSc, PhD: Head of Secretariat, Scottish Science Advisory Committee:
Dr Davidson joins 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.
Notes for Editors
The Chair, Professor Wilson Sibbett will receive a stipend from The Scottish Executive, which is expected to be in the region of £400 per diem. Members of the Committee will not receive payment.
Devolution and Science: Report by a Joint Working Group of The Royal Society of London and The Royal Society of Edinburgh was published in April 1999 and is available from both Societies.
One member of the Committee has declared that he is a non-office bearing member of a political party. Other than this, Committee Members have declared that they are not involved in political activity.
The SSAC will provide advice to Scottish Executive Ministers on science strategy, policy and priorities to allow the Scottish Executive to make effective use of available scientific advice, knowledge and techniques in formulating and implementing policies to support the full range of its objectives. The Committee will take a medium to long term, horizon scanning, strategic view in formulating its advice to Ministers. It will also publish an annual report on the work of the Committee, the implementation of the strategy, and on key strategic issues relevant to Scotland.
A .jpg showing Professor Wilson Sibbett, Minister for Enterprise & Lifelong Learning, Wendy Alexander, and RSE President, Sir William Stewart, is available from the RSE.