Sir Gareth Roberts's review of the supply of scientists and engineers - which reported its interim findings to the Treasury this week - is the latest in a long line of official initiatives that he has spearheaded.
Although he did not chair the Dearing review, he is viewed as the man behind it. As chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals in 1995, Sir Gareth refused to meet the higher education minister in protest at savage financial cuts to universities. In response, the government established the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education, chaired by Ron Dearing, to develop a 20-year vision for higher education.
Sir Gareth chairs the Research Careers Initiative, which was set up to implement a concordat for the career management of contract staff. While the realisation of the concordat has been slow and somewhat patchy nationally, Sir Gareth put his money where his mouth was to boost the stipends of PhD students at the University of Sheffield, where he was vice-chancellor.
Sir Gareth, who is 61, stepped down as vice-chancellor in March and is now president of Wolfson College, Oxford.
A physicist and former president of the Institute of Physics, Sir Gareth has an international reputation for his research on semiconductors and molecular electronics and is the author of more than 200 publications and patents. These have led to several national awards including becoming a fellow of the Royal Society in 1984. He presented the Royal Institution BBC Christmas lectures in 1990.
Sir Gareth has moved between industry and academia at various points in his career. He is a former chief scientist and director of research at Thorn EMI and also worked as a research physicist for the Xerox Corporation.
His hobbies include "watching soccer and supporting Tottenham Hotspur".