University of Sussex Professor appointed to head research at UK Energy Research Centre

Professor Jim Watson, Sussex Energy Group

University of Sussex energy researcher Professor Jim Watson has been appointed to the post of Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC).

The UK Energy Research Centre, which is funded by Research Councils UK, carries out world-class research into sustainable future energy systems. It is the hub of UK energy research and the gateway between the UK and the international energy research communities.

Professor Watson, a distinguished research academic who has overseen over 25 research projects in the last ten years, is currently Director of the Sussex Energy Group in SPRU – the science and technology policy research centre at the University.

Professor Watson has a well respected record of research and policy advice in the field of energy systems. He has served as specialist advisor to Parliamentary Select Committees, was previously Chair of the British Institute for Energy Economics, and holds a number of public and private sector advisory positions.

Professor Watson will be responsible for leading and coordinating UKERC's research programme, working closely with the researcher community, stakeholders and partners.

He will also play a key role in defining the Centre’s strategy, structure, and programmes for its next phase beyond the current funding period, which ends in 2014.

Professor Watson says: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to become Research Director of UKERC, an organisation that has a strong and growing national and international reputation for policy relevant, interdisciplinary energy research. I look forward to working with the UKERC community to build on UKERC's achievements to date - and to successfully secure funding for a new phase of research beyond 2014.”

John Loughhead, Executive Director of UKERC, says: “We are all extremely pleased to have Professor Watson move into this key position for UKERC. His research has already made a major contribution to our work, and his vision for the future will be the core of our planning. I look forward enormously to working closely with him."

David Delpy, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) said: “The direction of energy research and policy over the coming years is going to be vitally important in addressing the UK's energy needs and the global challenges we face in the shape of climate change and sustainability. Jim Watson's role will be a pivotal one and EPSRC welcomes his appointment.”

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) manages the UKERC award on behalf of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme.

NERC Chief executive, Duncan Wingham, says: “The need to develop sustainable future energy systems that produce energy whilst reducing environmental impacts is high on the UK Government’s agenda.  Jim Watson is now ideally placed to drive forward the UKERC research agenda, examining and informing the UK policies which encourage investment in energy technologies and lead to job creation.”

Professor Watson has also managed projects with broad collaborative groups from within the UK and also other countries, including India and China.

The appointment follows a public call for applications which attracted responses from the UK and internationally, and a selection process involving UKERC Directors, the Research Councils, and an independent, the Chair of UKERC's Advisory Board.

Notes for Editors

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Last updated: Friday, 12 October 2012