The UK's 100 leading practising scientists

A list of the UK’s 100 leading practising scientists has been published to highlight the many talents of this diverse community

January 17, 2014

Produced by the Science Council, a membership organisation for societies and professional bodies across the discipline, the list splits the top 100 into ten categories to differentiate between different types of scientists ­ from ‘explorers’ to ‘policy-makers’.

Science Council member organisations were invited to nominate individuals for each category before a judging panel, chaired by council president Sir Tom Blundell, made the selections.

“Science is like an orchestra. It takes many instruments working together to produce a fine performance,” said Diana Garnham, chief executive of the Science Council.

“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.”

Scroll through to see who made the cut in each category.

Explorer scientists

Arctic scientist

Hagan Bayley
Professor of chemical biology, University of Oxford

Known for his research into the structures and properties of biological molecules

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Visiting professor of astrophysics, University of Oxford

Discovered pulsars while completing her PhD at Cambridge University in the 1960s.

Lee Cronin
Regius chair of chemistry, Glasgow University

Described as “a young rising star” by the Science Council. Seeking to understand self-assembly and self-organisation in chemistry.

Dame Kay Davies
Director, Medical Research Council functional genomics unit, University of Oxford

A leading researcher in molecular analysis of human genetic disease and co-founder of the Oxford Centre of Gene Function.

Jane Francis
Professor of palaeoclimatology, University of Leeds

Known for exploratory research into ancient climates - particularly of the Polar Regions ­ and director of the British Antarctic Survey.

Sir Andre Geim
Regius Professor, University of Manchester

Discoverer of graphene, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 (jointly with Konstantin Novoselov).

James Jackson
Head of the department of Earth science, University of Cambridge

Recognised for exploring continental tectonic formations in areas of active plate movement such as Africa, Iran and the Aegean.

Sir Paul Nurse
President of the Royal Society and director of the Francis Crick Institute

Awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2001 for his discovery of protein molecules that control the division of cells.

Lord Martin Rees
Professor of cosmology and astrophysics, University of Cambridge

Current astronomer royal (appointed in 1995) and known for a career spent at the cutting edge of astrophysics and cosmology research.

Fred Turner
Biochemistry undergraduate, University of Oxford

Built a polymerase chain reaction machine in his shed for £250 with items he found at home to compare his DNA with that of his brother.

Investigator scientists

Female scientist examining test tube

Christopher Bishop
Professor of computer science, University of Edinburgh

Developed a thesis on quantum field theory and worked on the theory of magnetically confined plasmas. Also distinguished scientist for Microsoft Research Cambridge.

Michele Dougherty
Professor of space science, Imperial College London

Known for her leadership in space science as team leader on the magnetometer instrument aboard the NASA-ESA Cassini Mission to the Saturn System, and for her contribution to encouraging young women into science.

Dame Uta Frith
Deputy director, University College London, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience

One of the initiators of the study of Asperger’s Syndrome in the UK, and known for her research on autism spectrum disorders.

Sir Alan Fersht
Master of Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge

Recognised for his pioneering research of protein engineering for analysis of the structure, activity and folding of proteins.

Dame Wendy Hall
Professor of computer science and dean of the faculty of physical and applied sciences, University of Southampton

One of the first computer scientists to undertake research in multimedia, hypermedia and the Semantic Web.

John McWhirter
Distinguished research professor, Cardiff University

Recognised for his experience as an applied mathematician in theoretical physics, electronic engineering and computer sciences.

John Pickett
Principal investigator, Chemical Ecology, Rothamsted Research

A leading authority on volatile natural products that affect the behaviour and development of animals.

Dame Nancy Rothwell
President of the Society of Biology

Known for research identifying mechanisms of energy balance regulation, obesity and cachexia and co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology.

Dame Janet Thornton
Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute

Pioneered the use of computers to study protein sequences and structures and was one of the first people to describe these structures in terms of their component part.

Ahmer Wadee
Reader in non-linear mechanics, Imperial College London

Researcher in the field of nonlinear mechanics of structural stability, primarily involving modelling buckling instabilities in metallic and composite material structures.

Developer / translational scientists

Scientists at work in laboratory

Carol Boyer-Spooner
Chief executive, Chemical Industry Knowledge Transfer Network, Manchester University school of chemistry

Has amassed more than 25 years’ experience in the chemistry-using industry spanning pharmaceuticals, explosives, plastics, chlorine and paint

Nira Chamberlain
Optimisation Lead, Npower SME Optimisation and Insight

Developed mathematical modelling applications for industry and currently models the strategies of Npower’s main competitors and the subsequent influence on market share.

Paul Collinson
Consultant chemical pathologist, St George’s Hospital, London

Developed and pioneered the application of rapid serial measurement of markers of cardiac damage to reduce diagnostic time. Also an adviser at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Alastair Fitt
Pro vice-chancellor (research and knowledge exchange), Oxford Brookes University

Recognised for mathematical research on betting and gambling, the flow of glass and other complex fluids, and flow and deformation in human eyes.

Marie Johnston
Professor of health psychology, University of Aberdeen

A chartered psychologist, known for research on disability (theory, measurement and intervention) and on behaviour change in health and healthcare contexts.

Jon Lloyd
Professor of geomicrobiology, school of Earth atmospheric and environmental sciences, University of Manchester

Researches at the interface between biology and geology, addressing the mechanisms of microbial redox transformations of iron and other metals, metalloids and radionuclides.

Sir Nigel Shadbolt
Professor of artificial intelligence, University of Southampton

Conducted developmental research on open data, artificial intelligence, computer and web science as well as philosophy, psychology and linguistics. Also chair and co-founder of the Open Data Institute.

Peter Wells
Distinguished research professor, Cardiff University School of Medicine

The originator and developer of instruments for ultrasonic surgery, ultrasonic power measurement and other technological improvements in healthcare.

Clyde Williams
Emeritus professor of sport science, Loughborough University

Recognised for developing sport science in higher education as the first university chair in sport science at the University of Aberdeen in 1986. Was also founding chair of the British Association of Sports Sciences.

Andy Young
Professor of Psychology, University of York

Known for his research on face perception, recognition of emotion and pioneered work on theoretical and practical aspects of face recognition.

Service provider / operational scientists

Radiographers at work

Andy Beavis
Consultant medical physicist and head of radiation physics, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Combined his leadership and management role in service delivery with developing an entirely new way of using virtual simulation technology to enable therapy radiographer trainees to learn their skills safely.

Terry Croft
Director of operations, faculty of science, and director of technical development and modernisation, University of Sheffield

Worked as worked as an analytical chemist for a multinational mining company before joining Sheffield. Also chair of the Institute of Science and Technology.

Heather Ann Cubie
Honorary professor of research and research management, University of Edinburgh

Makes the list for her research relating to HPV, cervical disease and cancer detection. Also serves as director of the Scottish HPV Reference Laboratory, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

Dame Julia Slingo
Chief scientist, Meteorological Office

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 2008, became the first female president of the Royal Meteorological Society.

Karen Facey
Honorary senior research fellow, University of Glasgow University

Made the cut for her leadership in healthcare technology and patient wellbeing. Established the first Scottish National Health Technology Assessment Agency and Interest Group on patient/citizen involvement.

John Honour
Honorary senior research associate, University College London

Recognised for his expertise in developing, testing and exploiting devices for use in the operating theatre.

Jonathan Jones
Project lead, Sainsbury Laboratory

Known for his laboratory expertise in plant science, using molecular and genetic approaches to study disease resistance in plants.

Elizabeth Moran
Public analyst services co-ordinator, Public Analyst Scientific Services

Made the list because of her long-standing commitment and leadership to public health in food, water, environment and consumer products. Also chair of the UK Food Surveillance System Analytical Laboratories Users¹ Forum.

Christopher Price
Visiting professor in Clinical Biochemistry, University of Oxford

Recognised for combining his academic work with consultancy work for organisations, government departments and advisory groups.

Sandra Richards
Biomedical scientist, Oxford Universities Hospitals NHS Trust

Developed cellular pathology as a primary screener on the cervical cancer screening programme and as a STEM Ambassador and NHS healthcare science ambassador.

Monitor / regulator scientists

Scientist examining water by river

Jeni Colbourne
Chief inspector, Drinking Water Inspectorate

An expert on safe water and the water industry who has advised both UK and overseas governments.

Sir Gordon Duff
Chair, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

Recognised for his experience in the regulation of medicines and medical devices in the UK to ensure they are safe and effective.

Barbara Gallani
Director, regulatory, science and health division, Food and Drink Federation

Leads on scientific, technical and regulatory issues in food safety and food policy in the UK.

Judith Hackitt
Chair, Health and Safety Executive

Recognised for her expertise and national leadership in health and safety policy. She is a Fellow and the first female President of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Tricia Henton
Non-executive director, the Coal Authority

Recognised for her wealth of knowledge and experience in the environmental geo-science regulatory sector. Also board Member of the UK Carbon Capture and Storage Research Centre.

David Jeffreys
Senior vice-president, Eisai Global Regulatory Council

Known for expertise advising UK and international governments and companies on the regulation of medicines. Also chair of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Regulatory Affairs Committee, and chair of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations Regulatory Affairs Committee.

Margaret Patterson
Honorary Reader in the School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University, Belfast

Led on the regulation of research into high pressure processing of foods and food irradiation. Also senior principle scientific officer at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute.

Sir Michael Rawlins
President, Royal Society of Medicine

An expert in UK public health and clinical science policy issues. Also Chair, UK Biobank.

Catharine Sturgeon
Consultant clinical scientist, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

Developed one of the earliest anti-cancer medicines and worked to encourage optimal use of tumour marker tests now used routinely in the UK.

William Yule
Emeritus professor of applied child psychology, Institute of Psychiatry

Has worked to advance research and services in post-traumatic stress disorder children, particularly those affected in the former Yugoslavia.

Entrepreneur scientists

Two scientists writing formulae

Shankar Balasubramanian
Herchel Smith professor of medicinal chemistry, department of chemistry, University of Cambridge

Known for his work in the applications of chemistry to biological and medical sciences, and as the principal inventor of the leading next generation DNA sequencing methodology. Also senior group leader, Cambridge Research Institute (Cancer Research UK)

Rabinder Buttar
President, founder and chief executive of ClinTech International

Described by the Science Council as “one of Scotland’s most entrepreneurial young scientists” having received awards from, among others, the Institute of Directors and Ernst and Young.

Sir Christopher Evans
Chair, Excalibur

A leading biotechnology entrepreneur with a proven track record of establishing successful, high quality science companies, 20 of which have been taken public.

Alan Gibbs
Director and founder of Midland Valley Exploration Ltd

Recognised for his contribution to subsurface mapping and cross section techniques through the use of software generation for applied science companies and industry.

Hermann Hauser
Co-founder, Amadeus Capital Partners

Has founded or co-founded a number of highly successful companies in a wide range of technology sectors from computers to biosciences.

Andy Hopper
Professor of computer technology, University of Cambridge

Co-founded more than a dozen spin-outs and start-ups, three of which floated on stock markets, as well as working for multinational companies.

Reverend Ron Lancaster
Founder and Pyrotechnician, Kimbolton Fireworks

Has conducted extensive research for the fireworks industry, leading to the founding of Kimbolton which remains a family-owned business.

Alison McConnell
Professor of applied physiology, Brunel University

Recognised for inventing the POWERbreathe - a devise designed to reduce breathlessness in older people, which has subsequently been used by athletes to enhance their performance.

Jonathan Middle
Chair, Association for Quality Management in Laboratory Medicine

Recognised for his leadership in the quality management of clinical services between the public and private sectors, research and the diagnostic industry.

Dame Stephanie Shirley
Businesswoman and philanthropist

Donated much of her wealth to charity and champion of women in science. Founded the software company FI Group, which employed only women until the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 made that illegal.

Communicator scientists

Male scientist working at PC workstation

Maggie Aderin-Pocock
Chief executive, Guildford Science Innovation Ltd

Recognised for communicating the wonders of science to young people across the world with her “Tours of the Universe”, which have reached an audience of over 100,000 people.

Colin Blakemore
Emeritus professor of physiology, University of Oxford and professor of neuroscience and philosophy, University of London

A leading voice in raising awareness of the importance of science in public health issues such as animal research, genetically modified foods and drug classification.

Hannah Critchlow
Content designer, editor and presenter of Neuroscience and Naked Scientists, University of Cambridge

Recognised for her energy and enthusiasm for communicating complex science issues in an accessible way.

Dame Athene Donald
Professor of experimental physics, Robinson College, University of Cambridge

Makes the list for her public championing of greater representation and progression of women in science through her blogging and media activities.

Jamie Gallagher
PhD Student, chemistry and engineering, University of Glasgow

The Science Council describes Mr Gallagher as “a salsa-dancing science communicator and part-time comic”. He combines his PhD with touring science festivals with his self-written show.

Dame Bridget Ogilvie
Visiting Professor, University College London and council member of Campaign for Science and Engineering

Makes the list because of her vast experience across academia, campaigning and policy and her lifelong commitment to public engagement in science.

Alice Roberts
Professor of public engagement in science, University of Birmingham

Recognised for her ability to communicate science to a wide range of audiences across different media platforms, as a journalist, author and broadcaster.

Greg Whyte
Professor of applied sport and exercise science, Liverpool John Moores University

Raised the public profile of sport by training a number of celebrities in the completion of arduous sporting tasks for charity, including comedian Eddie Izzard’s challenge to run 43 Marathons in 51 days for Comic Relief.

Heather Williams
Senior medical physicist, Central Manchester NHS Hospitals Trust and director of ScienceGrrl

Co-founder and director of ScienceGrrl, a grassroots organisation celebrating and supporting women in science.

Lesley Yellowlees
Professor of inorganic electrochemistry, University of Edinburgh and president of the Royal Society of Chemistry

The first female president of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a public champion for more women in science. She is also vice-principal and head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

Teacher scientists

Four scientists working by blackboard

Charles Abraham
Professor of behaviour change, University of Exeter

Instrumental in the promotion of health psychology in the UK through development of training routes toward chartered status.

Diane Andersen
Training lead, Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service

Makes the list for her dedication as chair of the Institute of Biomedical Science’s Scottish Training Forum to ensure biomedical scientists receive the best possible training.

Dame Glynis Breakwell
Chair of the Daphne Jackson Trust

Also a member of the Council of the Economic and Social Research Council, Dame Glynis is recognised for leadership in UK higher education and championing the role of universities in scientific and technological innovation.

Professor Judy Harris
Professor of physiology, University of Bristol

Champion of higher education teaching as a profession through international collaborative projects and workshops.

Ian Harvey
Head of biology, Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge

Noted for his commitment and wide-ranging involvement in supporting science students and science teachers, through his teaching positions and co-coordinating roles for regional and national education committees.

Sir John Holman
Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, University of York

Has amassed extensive experience as an educational policymaker, and a leading player in many of the major national science curriculum initiatives of the past 25 years.

Becky Parker
Founding director and head of physics, Langton Star Centre, Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, Kent

Recognised for her enthusiasm for science teaching which led to her receiving the first Patrick Moore Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society.

Professor Michael Reiss
Pro-director, research and development and professor of science education, Institute of Education

Known for his influence as a science education policy maker and academic thinker.

Dr Richard Spencer
Biology subject leader, Stockton Riverside College, Bede Sixth Form, Cleveland

Made the cut because of his innovative teaching style which saw him receive the best lesson award from O2 Learn in 2012 and 2013, and come runner-up in the Society of Biology’s Biology Teacher of the Year in 2013.

Peter Worthers
Fellow and director of studies in chemistry, University of Cambridge

Has helped to bridge the transition between sixth-form and university through his leadership in developing the syllabus for the chemistry pre-university qualification.

Business / marketing scientists

Male scientist with arms crossed

Simon Campbell
Consultant to pharmaceutical and biotech companies, charities and governments

Recognised for his major contribution to the teams that discovered the drugs Cardura, Norvasc and Viagra.

Colin Dennis
Chair, English Food and Drink Alliance

Recognised for: his leadership and senior management experience in food research and contribution to the development of food science. He is a Chartered Scientist, a Fellow and immediate past-President of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society.

Ben Dias
Senior commercial analyst, Tesco

Has managed industry/higher education research collaborations and works on predictive consumer mathematics for big data analysis.

Steve Furber
Professor of computer engineering, University of Manchester

One of the UK’s leading computer scientists having lead developments in the design of microprocessing and computation in industry and academia.

Dame Sue Ion
Non-executive board member, Health and Safety Laboratory

Makes the list because of her high-level leadership in, and expertise of, the UK nuclear industry.

Keith Layden
Chief Technology Officer, Croda

Recognised for his experience of the interface between academia and industry as an advisory board member for chemistry at the Universities of Newcastle, Nottingham and York.

Melanie Lee
Chair of Cancer Research Technology and deputy chair, Cancer Research UK

Experienced in executive-level leadership, and known for her knowledge of drug research and development.

Andrew Mackenzie
Chief executive, BHP Billiton

Makes the list because of his extensive experience managing science-based businesses and corporations.

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart
Board member, Accenture and director, Saudi Aramco

Known for his leadership of international oil and mining companies such as Shell and Anglo American. Has been chair of the Global Business Coalition for HIV/Aids, TB and Malaria.

Cecil McMurray
Managing Director, SciTec Consulting

Recognised for consultancy work for the European Commission, the World Bank and the UK government.

Policymaker scientists

Scientist's hands on desk

AbuBakr Bahaj
Professor of engineering and the environment, University of Southampton

Recognised for combining his scientific and technical knowledge with an understanding of local government to inform local policy decisions. Is also chief scientific advisor to Southampton City Council.

Tracey Brown
Managing director, Sense About Science

Known for her passion for evidence-based policy making in the public policy arena, most recently through the Sense about Science ³Ask for Evidence² campaign.

Dame Sally Davies
Chief medical officer, National Health Service

The UK government’s first female principal medical adviser and the professional head of all directors of public health in local government.

Christopher Gibson
Head of the National School of Healthcare Science

Makes the list for his expertise and leadership in healthcare science ensuring safe, effective and innovative treatment of patients.

Anne Glover
Chief scientific adviser, European Commission

Has wide-ranging expertise across many policy fields at the highest levels of government, and a strong interest in how science can contribute to the progress of the developing world.

Max Headley
Professor of physiology, University of Bristol

Very influential in the science policy landscape, having volunteered his expertise throughout a number of government engagement processes.

Andrew Miller
Chair, House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee

Recognised for leadership in scrutinising Government policy on a wide range of issues across science and science education. Labour MP for Ellesmere Port.

Lord Ron Oxburgh
President, Carbon Capture and Storage Association

An eminent and respected champion of alternative energy sources and the move to a low-carbon economy.

Lord David Sainsbury
Businessman and philanthropist

Known for his charitable and philanthropic activities, and founder of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. Also a former Minister for Science, and chancellor of the University of Oxford.

Sir Mark Walport
Chief scientific adviser, UK government

A national and international leader on biomedical research and policy issues and the promotion of biomedical science.

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