Board member of the Science Advisory Council

Body: The Science Advisory Council (SAC)
Appointing Department: Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Sector: Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
Location: SAC usually meet face to face four times a year in London, the rest of council business is conducted virtually. At present, all interaction is being conducted by Microsoft Teams.
Number of Vacancies: 4
Remuneration: Remuneration for SAC business is £39.00 per hour. Preparation time may also be claimed. Reasonable travel expenses are also paid.
Time Requirements: During the year, SAC business will require a total of approximately 11 days. In addition, it is envisaged that each SAC Member should be willing to participate in activities during emergencies that fall within Defra’s remit (with considerations of an individual’s availability and relevant skills being taken into account), and in some circumstances this may involve participation in meetings called at short notice.


An announcement has been made on the outcome of this appointment.

Richard Bardgett, Lisa Collins, Nick Hanley and Susan Owens have been appointed as members of the SAC. Their membership commenced on 6 July for a period of 3 years.

Date: 07/07/2021

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Campaign Timeline

  • Competition Launched


  • Closed for Applications

    04/03/2021 at 12:00

  • Panel Sift


  • Final Interview Date

    19th and 22nd April 2021

  • Announcement



Assessment Panel

  • Professor Gideon Henderson Added 10/02/2021

    Panel Chair

    Defra Chief Scientific Adviser • Departmental Official

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  • Professor Sir Charles Godfray Added 10/02/2021

    SAC Chair (Current) • Representative of Organisation

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  • Dr Charlotte Allen Added 10/02/2021

    Head of the Defra Central Social Science Team, Analysis and Insights Directorate • Other Panel Member

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  • Professor Ian Bateman Added 10/02/2021

    Professor of Environmental Economics, Director of the Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute and Director of the South West Partnership for Environment & Economic Prosperity, University of Exeter • Independent Member

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Vacancy Description

The Science Advisory Council (SAC) provides independent and scientific support, advice and challenge to Defra.

The SAC’s remit is broad and focuses primarily on the strategic direction of the Departments’ evidence. It delivers independent high-level, cross cutting, strategic advice and challenge to help assure the evidence used in Defra policy development and delivery and to this end diversity of thought within the members is encouraged.

We are looking for four members with expertise in the natural sciences and allied disciplines. Three particular areas of interest are social science, animal disease control and system approaches, but we seek a broad range of expertise across Defra’s areas of interest, including but not limited to marine science, biodiversity, air or water quality, and agricultural or plant science. You will provide high-level strategic advice, support, and assurance to the CSA and Defra on developing and implementing an effective strategy for obtaining and using evidence and scientific advice (often at pace) including on high profile and contentious issues. You will provide strategic oversight on Defra’s use of evidence, help to identify sources of external advice to input to Defra evidence, and act as a conduit between Defra and evidence providers.

You will also advise on broader issues such as how Defra obtains its advice, its access to the scientific community and on maintaining and developing its scientific capabilities into the future. In addition to these duties, we would be looking to appoint one member as Chair of the SAC subgroup on Social Science, and in the future one member as Chair of the SAC subgroup on exotic diseases. In relation to systems, we are looking to recruit a systems expert to help with research methodologies and their application to the sorts of socioecological challenges facing Defra.

These duties will be performed through discussions and engagement with Defra officials and key stakeholders, and a mixture of meetings and smaller working groups.

Person Specification

Candidates must be able to demonstrate all of the following essential criteria:

• Significant expertise in the natural sciences or allied disciplines lying within the broad areas of interest to Defra; this might include knowledge of social science, animal disease control and system approaches.

• The ability to analyse issues in an impartial way and work across a range of topics drawing on, but not limited by, their expertise.

• The ability to provide strategic scientific advice on matters relating to the use of evidence in policy making in Defra. This will include the broader issue of how Defra obtains and accesses its external advice.

• A collaborative style and the ability to command the respect and confidence of the SAC Chair, the CSA, senior officials, and senior scientists. This might include the ability to Chair a subgroup on social science or exotic diseases (in animals) or on any other specific issue that may arise.

• An understanding of the interface between science, commerce and policy along with knowledge of UK and international research funding relevant to Defra. Demonstrable ability in strategically assessing the application of evidence in policy-making.

Additional Information

The Department has due regard to diversity. Expenses may include reimbursement of reasonable additional childcare or other carer costs that are occurred due to SAC commitments, and the reimbursement of reasonable additional expenses of disabled people.

How to Apply

All candidates are required to complete the following forms:

• Monitoring form 1 (Political Activity and Conflict of Interest Questionnaire)

• Monitoring form 2 (Diversity Monitoring Questionnaire)

Candidates should submit their CV with education, professional qualifications and employment history and the names and contact details for two referees, together with their statement of suitability.

The statement of suitability should give evidence of the strength and depth of your ability to meet the essential criteria for this role. Please provide specific examples to demonstrate how you meet each of the criteria (max two pages please).

Your CV and statement should be returned to the following address by the closing date: 12.00 (midday) on 4th March 2021. Email to quoting reference APPT13-20.

For further information please email:

1_Member candidate pack
2_Monitoring form 1 (Conflicts of Interest and Conduct)
3_Monitoring form 2 (Diversity and political activity form)
4_Public Appointments Guidance Notes
5_Public Appointments Privacy Notice
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