Newsflash: New Chair at STFC

As a quick piece of community service I thought I’d pass on the news of the appointment of a new Executive Chair for the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), namely Professor Mark Thomson of the University of Cambridge. Developments at STFC will cease to be relevant to me after this summer as I’m moving to Ireland but this is potentially very important news for many readers of this blog.

Professor Thomson is an Experimental Particle Physicist whose home page at Cambridge describes his research in thuswise manner:

My main research interests are neutrino physics, the physics of the electroweak interactions, and the design of detectors at a future colliders. I am co-spokesperson of the DUNE collaboration, which consists of over 1000 scientiests and engineers from over 170 institutions in 31 nations across the globe. The Cambridge neutrino group splits its acivities between MicroBooNE and DUNE and is using advanced particle flow calorimetry techniques to interpret the images from large liquid argon TPC neutrino detector.

I’ve added a link to the DUNE collaboration for those of you who don’t know about it – it’s a very large neutrino physics experiment to be based in the USA.

On the announcement, Prof. Thomson stated:

I am passionate about STFC science, which spans the smallest scales of particle physics to the vast scales of astrophysics and cosmology, and it is a great honour be appointed to lead STFC as its new Executive Chair. The formation of UKRI presents exciting opportunities for STFC to further develop the UK’s world-leading science programme and to maximise the impact of the world-class facilities supported by STFC.

This appointment needs to be officially confirmed after a pre-appointment hearing by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee but, barring a surprise offer of the position to Toby Young, he’s likely to take over the reins at STFC in April this year. He’ll have his work cut out trying to make the case for continued investment in fundamental science in the United Kingdom, in the face of numerous challenges, so I’d like to take this opportunity to wish him the very best of luck in his new role!

7 Responses to “Newsflash: New Chair at STFC”

  1. Excellent choice, Mark was chair of the Projects Peer Review Panel when I was on it. He has a very good understanding and appreciation of the whole of the STFC remit.

  2. This seems a bit confusing: is he replacing Brian Bowsher as the Chief Executive, or Michael Sterling as the Chairman? Or is this an interim position before he takes over one of those two roles?

    • telescoper Says:

      I believe it’s a new position, Executive Chair; the previous role seems to have been phased out. That may be for various reasons in employment law.

    • According to the STFC press release linked to above, he is replacing Brian Bowsher.

      • telescoper Says:

        Yes, in practice that is true, but Brian Bowsher is (until April) Chief Executive and Mark will be Executive Chair. As far as I understand it the job descriptions are similar, but the new structure of the Research Councils will be different from the old one so some things will change. STFC will not be so independent after April, it will be under UKRI, headed by Mark Wolpert.

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