Scottish biologist appointed Europe's first chief scientist


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The Independent Online

Scotland's chief scientific adviser has been appointed to a similar, newly created, post in the European Commission.

Professor Anne Glover's job in Brussels is to "provide high-level and independent scientific advice throughout all stages of policy development and delivery", said a Commission statement.

Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso announced his intention to create such a position two years ago and personally interviewed a range of candidates.

Prof Glover will provide advice directly to the president and in effect raise the profile of science and technology in the formulation of policy.

"I am delighted to appoint Professor Anne Glover to the post of chief scientific adviser. I believe her outstanding background and calibre will bring invaluable expertise to the Commission. She has a strong track record in leading the Scottish Science Advisory Committee which made her the stand-out candidate for this post", said Mr Barroso.

Prof Glover was appointed chief scientific adviser for Scotland in August 2006 with a brief to "further enhance Scotland's reputation as a science nation".

Most of her academic career has been spent at the University of Aberdeen, where she holds a personal chair of molecular and cell biology.

She is also an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a member of the Natural Environment Research Council, and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

She was recognised in March 2008 as a "Woman of Outstanding Achievement" by the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology and was made a CBE for services to environmental science in the Queen's New Year Honours list in 2009.

The brief for her Commission role as chief scientific adviser says she will "provide independent expert advice on any aspect of science, technology and innovation as requested by the president" and "provide analysis and opinion on major policy proposals being submitted to (the Commission) touching upon issues of science, technology and innovation".

She will also "provide authoritative guidance on interpretation of scientific evidence in presence of uncertainty, and will be involved in strategic emergency planning".

She will be an EU science ambassador too, required to "communicate the scientific values on which specific Commission proposals are based in order to enhance public confidence in science and technology, and in general to promote European culture of science and technology widely within Europe and abroad".

The National Farmers' Union hailed the appointment as a positive step by the Commission, which faced vital decisions on food security and climate change.

NFU acting chief scientific adviser Dr Andrea Graham said: "The NFU prides itself on using science and evidence as the basis for our policy-making so we look forward to seeing Professor Glover's influence permeate European policy.

"We are faced with huge global challenges to increase productivity sustainably and solutions from the EU must be underpinned by sound science."

Dr Graham added: "The UK Government's chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, has been an instrumental voice in putting food security back on the political agenda in the UK and we are delighted he will now have an equivalent in Europe."

Prof Glover said: "Science, engineering and technology are the key to a successful future for Europe and I'm delighted to have this opportunity to champion and work in partnership with world-leading institutions across Europe to help deliver this."

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Scotland continues to make an immense impact on modern society through scientific innovation and Anne has played a key role in developing Scotland's world-leading position on science.

"The fact she has been offered such an influential role speaks volumes for her and Scottish science's achievements in recent years in terms of delivering innovative solutions to problems that affect our world.

"Scotland remains one of the most respected places in the world for scientific research that has a global impact and attracts international investment, and Anne's drive, determination and enthusiasm has greatly strengthened this proud reputation.

"Her new role will further enhance Scotland's position on the scientific world stage. I wish Anne well and look forward to learning about her new venture."