I’m really pleased to have been appointed to the Natural Environment Research Council, as a Council Member, starting this summer. Council Members contribute a few days each month. NERC (as it is rather prosaically known) is a government body responsible for the £400 million of public money for research and training in environmental science – from the British Antarctic Survey to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Climate change, volcanoes, biodiversity, soils and seas – NERC scientists work to improve our understanding of these natural systems.
On the glamorous side, I get to think about (but probably not jump aboard) the research ships that head for the Antarctic. Less poetically, NERC, like all government bodies, faces huge funding challenges in the years ahead, so I’ll be taking part in some tricky decisions about how best to allocate scarce resources. I’m also keen to work with NERC on the issue of how best to engage people in science – something I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about.
I’m not a scientist – but nearly all the work I’ve done as an environmentalist has depended in one way or another on work funded by NERC and its sister organisations in other countries. So I hope that my perspective – as a customer, really – will help NERC in its vital mission of understanding the Earth’s natural life support systems.