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3rd March, 2020

Three UCL academics appointed UK Research and Innovation council members


Professor Hiranya Peiris (UCL Physics & Astronomy), Dr Lasana Harris (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences) and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (UCL Physics & Astronomy) are three of the 16 new council members appointed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

UCL is the only UK higher education institution to have more than one new member appointed across the eight councils which make up UKRI. The councils are responsible for advising and making decisions, as delegated to them by the UKRI Board, on scientific, research and innovation matters.

Dr Harris has been appointed to the Economic and Social Research Council, and Professor Peiris and Dr Aderin-Pocock have been appointed to the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Professor Peiris is Professor of Astrophysics at UCL. Her research aims to test fundamental physics using large cosmological datasets, combining observations, theoretical physics and advanced statistical methods. As a leading cosmologist, Professor Peiris has been recognised with the Fred Hoyle Medal and Prize for furthering our understanding of the origin and evolution of the cosmos. Joint winner of the 2018 Breakthrough Prize, she conducts world-leading research that has significantly shaped our understanding of the origin of cosmological structure seeded in the first moments of the Universe.

Dr Harris is a Senior Lecturer in Social Cognition at UCL. His research focuses on social, legal and economic decision making and how thinking about what other people are thinking affects those types of decisions. His work explores dehumanisaton, how people fail to consider other people’s minds, and anthropomorphism, extending minds to things that don’t have them.

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at UCL. She is also co-presenter of the BBC astronomy programme ‘The Sky at Night’ and is Managing Director of Science Innovation Ltd, a project which aims to engage children in space science.

Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research), said:

“It is a great achievement to be appointed to one of the UKRI councils and I congratulate these outstanding UCL academics. It shows the tremendous depth of research leadership here at UCL and demonstrates the prominence of these three academics in their fields.

“UKRI’s work is vital to advancing research and development across the UK, and it’s gratifying to see our researchers applying their experience to help to make decisions on how that work is conducted.”

The UKRI councils are responsible for advising and making decisions on scientific, research and innovation matters within their sphere. They provide leadership in their discipline area, engage with communities, encourage collaborative work and ensure the sustainability of UK research and innovation.

Welcoming all new council members, Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said:

“I‘m delighted to welcome these new Council members to UKRI. They will play a crucial role in the development of our strategy and governance in the years ahead by stimulating, supporting and challenging the direction of our organisation. The diversity of their personal backgrounds, experience and expertise will ensure that we make the very best choices as we develop our capacity to invest in the important research and innovation questions of the future.”

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