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Scientific Advisory Council

Who we are

In early 2023, we established a multidisciplinary Scientific Advisory Council to provide expert oversight and technical advice on our Research Strategy and projects selected for funding. They ensure the rigour of our scientific approach and research excellence. They are a diverse group of leaders in their respective fields, bringing expertise ranging from biological sciences, ocean and ecosystem functions, engineering technology and commercialisation.

Surabi Menon

Dr. Surabi Menon

VP, Global Intelligence at Climateworks Foundation

Dr. Surabi Menon is a leading climate scientist with over 25 years of experience in the field of climate change and vice president of Global Intelligence at ClimateWorks Foundation. Her work supports philanthropy to innovate and accelerate climate solutions that scale.

Before joining ClimateWorks Foundation in 2012, Surabi was a staff scientist and leader of the Heat Island Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California. Prior to that she worked as a climate scientist at Columbia University and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York. She has a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science and an MBA in Sustainable Management. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed publications and co-authored the 2007 IPCC report that was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

Prof. Alistair McCormick

Prof. Alistair McCormick

Professor of Plant Engineering Biology at The University of Edinburgh

Alistair McCormick holds an MSc from the University of Stellenbosch and a PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, which he gained while at the South African Sugarcane Research Institute. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and John Innes Centre before joining the University of Edinburgh in October 2013.

Alistair is Professor of Plant Engineering Biology within the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, and the Director of Edinburgh Plant Science, a consortium of Edinburgh-based plant scientists and social scientists that include wide-ranging expertise in food security, environmental sustainability and related policy. His lab works on fundamental and applied aspects of photosynthesis and growth in plants, algae and cyanobacteria, including exploring novel ways to improve the efficiency of photosynthetic carbon capture with CO2-concentrating mechanisms, and exploiting photosynthesis to generate high value secondary products using synthetic biology approaches.

Prof. David Beerling

Prof. David Beerling

Sorby Professor of Natural Sciences, School of Biosciences at University of Sheffield

Prof. David Beerling is the Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate change mitigation and Sorby Professor of Natural Sciences in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (APS) at the University of Sheffield, UK. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

David is an internationally renowned expert on the co-evolution of plants and the environment over the past half a billion years. A botanist by training, he pioneered a cross-disciplinary research approach that exploits experimental and theoretical techniques from the life sciences and physical sciences to offer insight into the influence of plants on the Earth’s climate.

By combining evidence from fossilised plants, experiments on living plants and computer modelling, David continues to enhance our understanding of plant evolution and its influence on the climate, atmospheric chemistry and geochemical cycles of the past.

David also has a strong interest in increasing public awareness of the role of plants in shaping the Earth’s climate and is the author of the popular science book, The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth’s History (2007). Additionally, he was a scientific consultant for a major BBC Two television series, How to Grow a Planet (2012), which attracted an average audience of 1.7 million viewers.

Prof. Louise Horsfall

Prof. Louise Horsfall

Professor of Sustainable Biotechnology at The University of Edinburgh

Louise Horsfall holds an MChem from the University of Oxford, a DEA and a PhD in Biochemistry from the Université de Liège, Belgium. She worked as a research associate at the University of Leeds and the University of Glasgow before joining the University of Edinburgh in May 2012.

Louise is Professor of Sustainable Biotechnology within the multidisciplinary Centre for Engineering Biology at The University of Edinburgh and leads the College of Science & Engineering’s Science for Sustainability Hub. Research in the Horsfall lab seeks to employ synthetic biology tools to increase the energy efficiency and resource efficiency of applied biotechnology. Current challenges include the production of metallic nanoparticles and platform chemicals to incentivise the decontamination of waste, water and land by engineering microorganisms, adopting biological compartmentalisation methods and optimising enzymes and pathways. Louise is an elected member of the executive board of the European Federation of Biotechnology, a member of advisory groups for the BBSRC, EPSRC, EUSynBioS and SynBioUK, and has recently joined the Scottish Science Advisory Council, Scotland’s highest level science advisory body, providing independent advice and recommendations on science strategy, policy and priorities to the Scottish Government.

Dr. Jerry Blackford

Dr. Jerry Blackford

Head of Science: Marine Systems Modelling at Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Jerry is a band 4 merit scientist with a 32 year career specialising in marine system modelling. As the Head of Science for the PML Marine Systems Modelling Group, he is responsible for leading, guiding and developing the work of ~20 scientists ranging from post docs to professors. Over his career he has promoted the development of marine biogeochemical and ecosystem models as vehicles for both heuristic and societally relevant studies, in particular balancing appropriate complexity with computational efficiency. He is particularly interested in the interaction of elevated CO2 with marine systems. The latter focuses on Climate Change and Ocean Acidification as well as environmental risk assessment and monitoring research for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

Concerning Climate and Ocean Acidification he pioneered the development of local and regional scale projections, including impacts and feedbacks to ecosystems, leading a NERC-Defra funded project within the UKOA programme investigating the evolution of ocean acidification in shelf seas, including the Arctic.

More generally Jerry has been a principal investigator in >25 national and EU scientific projects developing marine system models for both applied and theoretical research. He is currently institute PI in the CMEMS funded operational oceanography project NOWMAPS, the NERC National Capability program CLASS and leads PML’s contribution to the NERC UK Earth System Model program. He provides advice to UK government departments (e.g. BEIS, Defra, Marine Management Organisation), international organisations (e.g. ICES, IPCC), industry and environmental NGOs on issues related to climate change and CCS.

Sarah Sclarsic

Sarah Sclarsic

Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Voyager VC, Director at Pivotal Investment Corporation III, Board Member at XL Fleet

Sarah Sclarsic is Founding Partner of Voyager, a venture firm investing in early-stage climate technology companies.

Sarah Sclarsic has been building and investing in transformative technology companies since 2009 and brings expertise in mobility, biotech, food and materials production and carbon removal. She co-founded car-sharing firm Getaround and served as the founding business director of Modern Meadow, the world’s first company making biofabricated leather and meat. Sclarsic enrolled in the PhD program at MIT in 2018 to research bioengineering strategies for carbon removal, completing her Master’s thesis on A bioengineering roadmap for negative emissions technologies before launching Voyager.

Sarah is a graduate of Harvard and of MIT, where she researched atmospheric carbon removal. She lives in New York City.

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