Board and Committees

The Science Council is governed by a Board of Trustees, answerable to the Full Council of member organisations. The Full Council elects the President and the Board of Trustees.

The Board is responsible for ensuring that the organisation functions within the legal, regulatory and financial requirements of a registered charity, and delegates close scrutiny of its governance policies and activities to the relevant sub-committee.

The Board is comprised of trustees elected by Member Organisations and additional, independent trustees appointed by the Board for their skills and experience. All Trustees act in an independent capacity to deliver the Science Council’s public benefit objectives but take collective responsibility for Board decisions.


The President of the Science Council is Professor Sir Keith Burnett. His photo and biography can be found in the list of trustees below.

Board of Trustees

The trustees are responsible for the overall governance and management of the Science Council and for ensuring that the Science Council meets its charitable objectives.

Trustees are elected by member organisations to serve in this capacity as individuals and not as representatives of organisations, interest groups or sectors. Elected trustees normally serve a four year term with one quarter of elected trustees retiring each year.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett FRS (President of Council)

Sir Keith BurnettKeith is a physicist with particular expertise in lasers and optics. His work includes research on Bose-Einstein condensates.

He has worked as a scientist in the U.S., at Imperial College in London and taught at The University of Oxford for 20 years where he was Chairman of Physics and led the Division of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences.

In 2007, he became Vice-Chancellor of The University of Sheffield.

He has been a longstanding advocate of professional recognition for scientific technicians in the UK through the HEaTED programme, an area where Sheffield has led nationally.

He is a member of the Board of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and has advised the UK government on energy and infrastructure investment. His links with industry include leading work on advanced manufacturing in aerospace and nuclear technologies, and he is the Chair of the Sheffield City Region Science and Innovation Board.

Sir Keith was knighted for his services to Science and Education in 2013.

Adam Donnan

Adam is Chief Executive of the Institution of Environmental Sciences, one of the Science Council’s Member Bodies. Adam’s role includes creating strategy for the organisation, acting as an external representative and directing and controlling key resources. He was Vice President of the European Network of Environmental Professionals between 2013 and 2016, non-Executive Director of Change Agents UK between 2011 and 2016 and a member of the Project Management Group of Professional Practice for Sustainable Development (PP4SD) from 2007 to 2016.

He has been Treasurer of The Committee of Head of Environmental Sciences, the collective voice of the environmental sciences and related disciplines in higher and further education, since 2007. He has a bold vision of the way modern professional bodies should operate towards the public good and is constantly striving for innovation in the way the IES delivers its membership services. He was the 2014 Young Leader of the Year at the Association Awards UK. He holds a MBA and a BA in History.

Sue Ferns

Sue FernsSue Ferns is Deputy General Secretary of Prospect, the union for professionals representing around 50,000 members working in STEM-based industries across key sectors of the economy. She has lead responsibility for Prospect’s work on equality and diversity, providing visible and persuasive leadership for the union’s work on women in STEM. She also has management responsibility for Prospect’s RegTech programme in support of professional registration for science and engineering technicians, funded by the Gatsby Foundation.

Sue is a member of the TUC General Council, serving as Deputy Chair of its Women’s Committee, Chair of the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee and Unions 21. She is also a member of unionlearn Board, a Board member of the Cogent sector skills group, and a Council member of Ruskin College.

Dr Simon Festing

Simon is Chief Executive of the British Occupational Hygiene Society. He has extensive experience working in the professional body sector. He previously held three Chief Executive roles, at the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, the Society for General Microbiology, and Understanding Animal Research.

Simon trained and worked as a medical doctor for two years before taking an MSc in Environmental Technology at Imperial College London. He then worked in the environmental movement for a decade, including at Friends of the Earth. He subsequently spent 15 years in the health/biosciences sector, initially at the Association of Medical Research Charities.

Apart from the leadership and management duties of the CEO roles, Simon’s main interest and expertise is in advocacy, policy and communications.

Jonathan Gorvin

Jonathan has worked in professional bodies for over ten years and has gained policy and development experience in over 20 countries. He is currently Head of Regulatory Policy and Development at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), where he is responsible for policy, governance and disciplinary tribunals.

Jonathan was previously Head of Regulatory Affairs at the Press Recognition Panel, where, following the Leveson Inquiry, he developed the regulatory framework for recognising and monitoring press self-regulators. He has previously worked at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Professor Patrick Kniveton

Patrick has significant experience of leadership in the professional body sector. He is a former President of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), chairing its Board of Trustees, Council and Nominations Committee. Prior to becoming President, he was a trustee of the IMechE for a number of years. He has been a Chartered Engineer since 1985, a Chartered Manager since 2003 and was made a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute in 2014.

Patrick worked for Rolls-Royce between 1989 and 2016 in a number of roles, most recently as Head of Engineering Skills at Rolls-Royce Submarines, where he directed the resourcing and development of the competence of some 1500+ engineers, scientists and technicians, including our apprentices. In 2015, he led an initiative, which continues to flourish, to develop women scientists and engineers in Rolls-Royce Nuclear with the skills and behaviours required to develop their careers.

Through his community work with the Prince’s Trust and with the Debrett’s Foundation, he was named in the Debrett’s / Sunday Times 500 most influential People of Today in the top 20 Engineers section for three years – 2014-2016.

Patrick is currently a Visiting Professor in Engineering at the University of Derby, and chairs its new Industrial Advisory Board.

Dr Adam Law (Honorary Treasurer)

Dr. Adam Law is a founder shareholder of oil and gas consultants ERC Equipoise, after joining from Amerada Hess in 2003. He took is first degree at University College, London, and completed a Ph.D at Cambridge University. Since graduating, he has gained extensive experience in the oil and gas sector, both as an operator and as a consultant.

Adam is passionate about his science, and its professional practice. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of London, where he has served as a trustee, holding the office of Treasurer, and is an Honorary Fellow at Durham University, where he assists in undergraduate teaching. Adam is also a registered Petroleum Evaluator with the Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers.

Dr Pantea Lotfian

Pantea has experience both as an executive and non-executive director, combining strategic leadership with a strong practical understanding of the challenges that businesses face today. She has an extensive background in innovation and strategy consulting in a verity of industries, including manufacturing, engineering, chemicals, energy, FMCG and pharmaceuticals. She is the Founder and Director of Camrosh Ltd, which builds strategic foresight practices that enable corporations and organisations to take informed action to gain access to emerging technologies and identify and expand into new markets.

She is currently member of the board at Pepal, a not for profit that brings NGOs and Global Corporations together to find simple solutions to big social issues. In addition, she has extensive coaching and mentoring experience working with startups and SMEs. She is committed to promoting entrepreneurship and supporting individuals and businesses in their efforts to succeed and make an impact. Pantea has a PhD in Biochemical Engineering from UCL and an Mphil in Technology Policy from Judge Business School.

Dr Helen Pain CSci CChem

Helen is Deputy Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry. She joined the Royal Society of Chemistry after completing a degree and PhD in Chemistry at Exeter University. She has several years’ experience working at senior board level, being appointed to Director of Membership in 2011, Executive Director of Membership, Operations and Organisational Design in 2012, before becoming Deputy CEO in 2015. Her core strength is in building effective relationships with members and Trustees.

She has many years of experience working with Boards and Committees and ensuring the RSC’s Charter objects are delivered.

She has a strong belief in organisations remaining focused on their core purpose and in ensuring effective strategies and business models are in place in order that organisations remain relevant and sustainable. She is a champion for inclusion and diversity and committed to establishing efficient and effective governance practices.

Simon Toms

Simon is a partner at international law firm Allen & Overy LLP, which he joined in 2001. He has extensive experience in advising boards, companies and non-profit organisations on governance matters, including compliance with the Companies Act, internal policies and procedures, risk mitigation and reporting, advice on the UK Listing Rules and other regulations.

His practice also involves advising clients on a wide range of cross-border public and private M&A transactions, joint ventures, corporate reorganisations and equity capital markets transactions. Simon is a member of the firm’s Pro Bono and Community Affairs group and has served as a trustee or board member of a number of non-profit organisations.

Dr Chris Westcott

Chris is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Policy Institute, Kings College London, and a Member of the British Council’s Digital Advisory Group.

From 2003 to April 2015 Chris was the Director of BBC Monitoring, responsible for more than 400 staff operating from bases in 10 countries, analysing and supplying open source news, information and insight collected from media around the world. Providing distinctive and authoritative coverage of political, social, security, military and economic news, BBC Monitoring supplies the BBC, the FCO, MoD, Cabinet Office and intelligence agencies; and sells its expertise commercially to governments, academia, NGOs and businesses.

Chris joined the BBC as a member of the World Service's Science Unit, reaching the role of Executive Producer, producing, editing and reporting for radio and TV on science, technology, health and medicine. In 1992 he was selected as the first person with a science background to be a producer for the BBC Radio 4 current affairs programme ‘Analysis’.

He led the development of BBC World Service’s digital media portfolio from the start, founding the World Service New Media department in 1995 and joining the BBC World Service Board in 2000. He was responsible for a sequence of major investments spanning online and mobile news services in 44 languages, including the BBC’s first 24 hour news services in Arabic and Chinese (1999) and Russian and Spanish (2001). His awards include a Webby ("The Internet’s highest honour" – New York Times) for World Service Online and multiple BAFTAs as the World Service lead for BBC News Online, from its launch in 1997 to 2003.

Prior to his BBC career Chris was a research scientist at the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s labs at Harwell. It was while at Harwell that he was awarded a British Science Association Media Fellowship, which eventually led to him joining the BBC.

Chris holds an MA in Metallurgy and Materials Science from the University of Oxford and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Southampton. He is currently a Non-Executive Director of Oxford Analytica, a global analysis and advisory firm.

Attending Board Meetings

The Chairs of the Registration Authority, and the Finance, Audit & Risk Committee attend the Board but are not trustees.

Dr Colin Grant CSci (Chair of Registration Authority)

Colin is a consultant to industry having retired from full time work at BP in January 2014. He spent some 35 years in meteorological and oceanographic (metocean) matters in the offshore industry. After obtaining a BSc and PhD from Bristol University, his early career was as a marine weather forecaster. He then worked in Brunei Shell Petroleum as a forecaster and metocean specialist.

He joined BP in 1984 and was ultimately responsible for developing the design and operational metocean criteria for many offshore projects across the globe. He chaired the offshore industry’s metocean committee from 2008 to 2013. In 2002 he joined the IMarEST to assist them in developing their marine science professional registration (CMarSci).

Colin is a CMarSci, CSci and a Fellow of the IMarEST. He was chairman of the IMarEST Membership Committee from 2007 to 2013. Through IMarEST he became involved in Science Council activities and joined the Board in 2012. He was a member of the New Registers Advisory Group (NRAG), the NRAG Licensing Sub Group and has been involved in several license reviews, both as a member and chairman.

Nick Whitaker (Chair of Finance, Audit and Risk Committee)

Head portrait of Nick (Science Council Chair of Audit and Risk Committee)Nick is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales with substantial experience in business and professional practice management, being in charge of both London and nation wide service units and on the Board of PKF(UK) LLP responsible for strategy and profitability. He has have advised companies both in the UK and internationally, including Del Monte, HM Treasury, Whole Foods, Nuclear Liabilities Fund Trust and the United Nations, through to smaller investment and technology businesses including start ups and activities in the not for profit and charitable sectors, such as London Metal Exchange and the National Housing Federation.

There are three Board sub-committees:

Registration Authority

The Board is advised on matters relating to the four Registers by a Registration Authority. The Registration Authority is appointed by the Board and is responsible for upholding the registration standards.

  • Dr Colin Grant CSci (Chair of Registration Authority)
  • Emma Kelly-Dempster
  • Prof. Liz Bacon CSci
  • Dr David Barr CSci
  • Dr Pete Barratt CSci
  • Ian Bowbrick CEng CEnv
  • Kevin Bown CSci
  • Trevor Lewis CSci
  • Sarah May CSci
  • Dr Jason Owen CSci
  • Corinne Stevenson

Observers from the Engineering Council and Society for the Environment are invited to attend Registration Authority meetings.

The Registration Authority’s Terms of Reference are available here.

Finance, Audit and Risk Committee

  • Nick Whitaker (Independent Chair)
  • Dr Simon Festing
  • Professor Patrick Kniveton
  • Dr Adam Law (Treasurer)
  • Dr Chris Westcott
  • Professor Ray Kemp (Independent member)
  • Susan Preston (Independent member)
  • Ian Sealey (Independent member)

The Committee’s Terms of Reference are available here.

Governance Committee

  • Simon Toms (Chair)
  • Jonathan Gorvin
  • Dr Pantea Lotfian
  • Dr Helen Pain CSci
  • Carol Chinuandura (Independent member)
  • Anil Majithia (Independent member)
  • Steve Griffiths (Independent member)

The Committee’s Terms of Reference are available here.

If you have an interest in a particular area and would like to explore current vacancies, please visit our vacancies page or contact Oli O’Hanlon.