Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser talked at The Roslin Institute

Published: 14 November 2017

The Roslin Institute has hosted a seminar by Professor Ian Boyd, Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK Government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The talk focused on areas of particular current importance at Defra, including the future of livestock farming in the UK post-Brexit and the need to increase productivity across the livestock sector. Professor Boyd also told us about his path from practicing research scientist, through Institute leadership to his current role as Chief Scientific Adviser to Defra and gave useful advice to the scientists who would like to get involved in policy and interacting with government.

Ian particularly noted the need to develop traits such as impartiality, patience, persistence and opportunism in getting issues onto the minister’s desk, and the need to understand that scientific evidence is just one of many competing drivers (along with economics, feasibility and public opinion) in informing policy decisions.

Professor Boyd has had an extremely broad and wide ranging career including as a physiological ecologist with the Natural Environment Research Council Institute of Terrestrial Ecology; science programme director with the British Antarctic Survey; Director at the Natural Environment Research Council's 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 and Technology for Scotland.

He is currently also Professor in Biology at the University of St Andrews. He has received the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and the Bruce Medal (awarded once every 4 years) for his research in polar science. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Society of Biology. In 2017 Ian was awarded the prestigious Polar Medal.

We were delighted to host Professor Ian Boyd from Defra at The Roslin Institute. It was fascinating to hear about the role of science in government. This was a very good opportunity for our staff and students to learn about how scientists can help to shape government policy and practice.

Professor Eleanor Riley, Director, The Roslin Institute

The seminar attracted scientists, clinicians, undergraduate and postgraduate students from across the Easter Bush Campus who posed numerous challenging questions to Professor Boyd during and after the event.

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