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New Chief Executive for the Natural Environment Research Council – University of Reading

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New Chief Executive for the Natural Environment Research Council

Release Date 10 January 2005

Professor Alan ThorpeScience Minister, Lord Sainsbury, has today named University of Reading Professor, Alan Thorpe, as the new Chief Executive and Deputy Chair of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Following the announcement Professor Thorpe said: "At this time when environmental science is so critical for society and the economy, I am delighted to have this opportunity to be Chief Executive of NERC. John Lawton has done a fantastic job in putting Earth system science at the heart of NERC's research strategy and I aim to take this forward as we face the challenges of climate change and other key environmental issues." He added: "I am really looking forward to working closely with NERC staff, the academic community, NERC's many stakeholders and research council colleagues. Environmental research relies on strong component disciplines and I aim to contribute to nurturing this wide science base." Outgoing Chief Executive, Professor Sir John Lawton said: "I have made no secret of the fact that I will find it hard to leave NERC, but personally my departure has been made that much easier by the knowledge that Alan will be taking the helm. We share the same vision for NERC as the Research Council that delivers Earth system science, and Alan himself has the experience and an international scientific reputation that will help him deliver this vision. I am delighted that I am handing the baton on to an atmospheric scientist who also displays real interest in, and enthusiasm for, the full range of NERC science. I wish him, and NERC, all the very best for the future." Professor Thorpe is currently the Director of the NERC Centres for Atmospheric Science, based at the University of Reading. He will succeed Professor Sir John Lawton on 1 April 2005. The appointment is for four years. End Notes for Editors 1. The appointment of Professor Thorpe has been made following an open competition undertaken in accordance with the Guidance on Appointments to Public Bodies of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. 2. Professor Thorpe will be on leave-of-absence from the University of Reading where he is currently Director of the NERC Centres for Atmospheric Science (NCAS). Alan graduated from the University of Warwick with a physics degree in 1973 and from Imperial College with a doctorate in atmospheric physics in 1976. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College for five years and after a short interval at the Met Office took up a lectureship in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading in 1982. He became a professor of meteorology in 1991 and Head of Department in 1996. His research involves the basic dynamics and predictability of weather and climate. From 1999 to 2001, Alan was Director of the Met Office's Hadley Centre for climate prediction and research. In 2001 he became the first director of the newly established NCAS, which is a distributed NERC Collaborative Centre involving over 15 universities. He has been Vice-President of the Royal Meteorological Society and was awarded their L. F. Richardson Prize (1979) and Buchan Prize (1992) for his research; the latter being awarded for the most important original contribution or contributions to meteorology and in Alan's case for his "significant personal scientific contributions towards improving the understanding of the dynamics of fronts". He is a founder and co-chair of the World Meteorological Organisation's research programme "THORPEX: A World Weather Research Programme". He is a member of Defra's Science Advisory Council and of a number of national and international science committees. 3. Professor Thorpe is not active on behalf of any political party and is a member of Defra's Science Advisory Council for which he receives a fee of £300 per meeting, around £1,200 per annum. 4. Professor Thorpe will receive an annual salary of £92,310 and will be eligible for performance awards of up to 15% of his basic salary. 5. Professor Sir John Lawton takes up his new post as Chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution from 1 April 2005. 6. NERC is one of the UK's seven Research Councils. It uses a budget of about £300 million a year to fund and carry out impartial scientific research in the sciences of the environment. NERC trains the next generation of independent environmental scientists. It is addressing some of the key questions facing mankind such as global warming, renewable energy and sustainable economic development. More information: Marion O'Sullivan, Senior Press Officer, NERC Tel: 01793 411727 or mobile 07917 086369 Email:

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