Scientific Challenges and Priorities across Government - Insight from the Chief Scientific Advisors



Sir Gordon Conway KCMG FRS

Sir Gordon Conway

Sir Gordon Conway took up his appointment as DFID’s Chief Scientific Adviser in January 2005. He was educated at the Universities of Wales (Bangor), Cambridge, Trinidad and California (Davis). His discipline is agricultural ecology. From 1970 to 1986, he was Professor of Environmental Technology at Imperial College, London. During this period he lived and worked in many countries in Asia and the Middle East. 

He then directed the sustainable agriculture program of the International Institute for Environment and Development in London before becoming Representative of the Ford Foundation in New Delhi from 1988 to 1992 and, subsequently, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex and Chair of the Institute for Development Studies from 1992-1998. 

Prior to joining DFID, Sir Gordon was President of The Rockefeller Foundation (1998-2004). He has a number of honorary degrees, is an honorary fellow of the Institute of Biology, and a fellow of Imperial College, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Royal Society.

Professor Brian Collins CPhys FInstP

Professor Brian Collins

Professor Brian Collins became the Department for Transport’s Chief Scientific Adviser in October 2006. He is also Professor of Information Systems at the Defence College of Management and Technology (DCMT), Cranfield University. He is the DCMT academic leader for all ICT research and education, and his research centers on information management using next generation information and communication technology. 

Brian is a graduate of Oxford University, where he read physics and also obtained his doctorate in astrophysics. His early career was in the scientific civil service, culminating as Deputy Director of RSRE and then Chief Scientist at the Government Communication Headquarters. He then worked in the private sector at KPMG, Wellcome Trust and finally as Chief Information Officer for Clifford Chance. He has been an adviser to several Government Departments.

Brian’s role at DfT is to ensure that the department’s scientific activities are well directed and that all policy is soundly based on good science.

Sir Howard Dalton FRS

Sir Howard Dalton has been the Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) since March 2002. His main role is to provide ministers with the best possible scientific advice, gain public trust in Defra’s science, to raise the profile of this science and ensure that it is of the highest quality.

Sir Howard received his first degree from Queen Elizabeth College, London University, and his doctorate from the University of Sussex. Following postdoctoral research work at the University of Sussex and Purdue University, Indiana, he became a lecturer at Warwick University. Since 1983, Sir Howard has been Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Biological Sciences at Warwick University, where he still heads a successful research team. He was President of the Society for General Microbiology1997-2000, and is now an honorary life member of the society. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1993, was awarded the Royal Society’s Leeuwenhoek medal lecture for 2000, and was knighted in New Year 2007 Honours List.

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