"I NEVER had ambitions to be a bureaucrat," says the outgoing head of PPARC, Ken Pounds. After four years as the council's first chief executive, Professor Pounds says he is quite happy to be returning to research.
From April he will once again be head of physics at Leicester University, a job he claims to have rather reluctantly, and only after three separate approaches, given up four years ago.
"I was quite content to spend my whole career at Leicester," he says. "It was my wife who finally suggested I had done quite well in research, with a 5-rated department. It might be downhill from here. A new challenge seemed a good idea."
"The real challenge now will be to resurrect my research career," adds Professor Pounds. "Over the past four years I have done no research, it has taken a backward step. But a year after I get back ESA will be launching XMM, one of its cornerstone missions, so there could be a lot going on in my field of x-ray astronomy."