Defra chief scientist leaves role after seven years

Written by: Jemima Tottle | Published:

Defra chief scientist Sir Ian Boyd has left his role after seven years in post.

Boyd was responsible for ensuring the department’s policies are underpinned by scientific advice.

His key accomplishments include leading the scientific input into key government strategies such as the 25 Year Environment Plan, Resources and Waste Strategy and the Clean Air Strategy.

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: “Sir Ian Boyd’s work for the department over the last seven years has been crucial to ensuring we continue to protect the environment with the very best science available.”

He dealt directly with the threat of ash dieback, driving the use of underpinning research into operational practice, and chaired the Decontamination Science Assurance Group in response to the Salisbury nerve agent attack in 2018.

He has championed innovation in the department, leading to the creation of the Defra Earth Observation Centre of Excellence and was also responsible for establishing the Systems Research Programme, an initiative using systems approaches to inform policy decisions.

Boyd said: “I’m very grateful for the opportunity and privilege to have served as Defra CSA. The role is immensely varied, but ultimately it involves putting science at the heart of all decision making at the department, whether responding to an unexpected event, or long term policy decisions to improve the environment.

The CSA sits on Defra’s Board and is responsible for overseeing the quality of evidence that the department relies on for policy decisions, they also provide Ministers with scientific advice and sets the priorities for scientific research and evidence-gathering.

Professor Gideon Henderson is due to take over the post in October.

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