The Science Council has today released a list of the 100 leading practising scientists in the United Kingdom, to challenge the UK’s narrow and old-fashioned view of science and to highlight a collective blind spot in the approach of government, media and public to science – which tends to reference dead people or to regard only academics and researchers as scientists.
Chief Executive of the Science Council, Dr Diana Garnham, said: “It is vital that this narrow vision is challenged urgently because it is inhibiting education policy, the career ambitions of young people and investment in developing the skills we need to deliver a world class economy.”
Dr Garnham added: “Science is like an orchestra. It takes many instruments working together to produce a fine performance. At the moment, almost exclusively, it is the virtuosity of the soloists being addressed and praised. Of course, they are essential to science and should be valued accordingly. However, we must, at the same time, recognise and encourage the many other types of contributory scientific talent and experience.”
To identify its list of 100, the Science Council organised a competition around 10 different ‘types’ of scientist roles. The list of 100 has 10 different examples of each of the 10 types and gives a broad picture of the many different ways people work with science, making valuable contributions across UK society and the economy.
Included in the list is Dame Professor Julia Slingo, Chief Scientist of the Met Office and Visiting Professor in the Department of Meteorology, University of Reading. Dame Julia has been recognised for ensuring high-quality scientific and technical standards in climate modelling and research as well as her commitment to national and international scientific advisory committees. In 2006 she founded the Walker Institute for Climate System Research at Reading, aimed at addressing the cross disciplinary challenges of climate change and its impacts,and in 2008 she became the first female President of the Royal Meteorological Society.