New professors signal fresh ambitions for science policy research

Sussex continues to tackle the most challenging issues for governments and policy makers with the appointment of three big names in the field of science and technology policy.

Professor James WilsdonProfessor James Wilsdon

Professor Mariana MazzucatoProfessor Mariana Mazzucato

Professor Frank GeelsProfessor Frank Geels

The new appointments to SPRU, announced on 2 November in Research Fortnight, will join current SPRU faculty in testing that commitment in the wake of funding cuts, global economic upheaval and growing competition for resources. 

The appointments are: 

  • James Wilsdon, who is appointed Professor of Science and Democracy, was formerly Director of Science Policy at the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science. Previously he was Head of Science and Innovation at the think-tank Demos and Director of The Atlas of Ideas, a three-year study of the changing landscape for science and innovation in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. 
  • Mariana Mazzucato, who will be the new RM Phillips Professor in Science and Technology Policy, is moving to SPRU from the Open University. She is a prominent evolutionary economist, commenting on growth, innovation and the knowledge society. A member of the European Commission’s newly formed Bureau for Innovation for Growth and author of a Demos report on the ‘entrepreneurial state’, she has also led several major international collaborations, including an EU-funded project on the relationship between financial markets and the real economy. 
  • Frank Geels, a current member of SPRU faculty, is made a Professor of System Innovation and Sustainability. Professor Geels chairs the new international Sustainability Transitions Research Network and his current research explores the transition to a more environmentally sustainable world. 

Professor Mackerron sees the appointments as part of a strategy including new student programmes and increased research funding that will place SPRU at the forefront of science and technology policy research, with the emphasis on challenging establishment thinking. 

Professor Mackerron says: “These exciting appointments will complement existing research strengths in SPRU. 

“Improved understandings of how knowledge is produced and how it can generate economic and social value are essential in meeting the challenges of improving prosperity and sustainability, poverty reduction and times of economic insecurity.” 

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing, says: “Universities such as Sussex offer the depth and breadth of knowledge required to address the big challenges that governments and commerce face in today’s world. 

“SPRU draws on the founding principles of Sussex – an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving, an excellent record in international collaboration and emphasis on critical thinking, making SPRU ideally placed to inform policy on key challenges such as climate change, energy resources and the regulation and application of emerging technologies.”