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Executive

The BBSRC Executive is based in Swindon, Wiltshire. It is led by the Executive Chair to whom day-to-day responsibility is delegated from the Council.

Executive Chair

The Executive Chair is Professor Melanie WelhamExecutive Chair’s biography.

The Executive Chair is supported and advised by:

  • Executive Leadership Team (ELT) - meets fortnightly to discuss operational issues (chair - Executive Chair) and is responsible for taking forward actions on all matters emanating from Council and its Boards. It also ensures that relevant business is laid before Council in a timely manner and reviews business associated with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and UK Research and Innovation. Executive Group comprises the Executive Chair, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Executive Directors
  • Office Management Group - chaired by the COO, deals with operation of the BBSRC Office; reports to the ELT.

Executive structure

Executive Structure

Executive Director, Research Strategy and Programmes - Dr Amanda Collis

Amanda Collis

Amanda studied for a degree in plant sciences and PhD in fungal molecular biology before joining BBSRC in 1998. She has extensive experience of the UK research councils with strong interests in basic and strategic research, multidisciplinary approaches, funding partnerships and research infrastructures. Amanda has broad experience in UK science policy, including time spent on secondment to the Houses of Parliament, Research Councils UK and detached duty to the British Consulate General - Boston where she worked alongside the UK government’s Science and Innovation Network. Amanda is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.

As Executive Director, Research Strategy and Programmes, Amanda has responsibility for:

  • Frontier and interdisciplinary research
  • Science strategy, including horizon scanning
  • Responsive and strategic programmes
  • International
  • Tools and technology.

Email Amanda Collis


Executive Director, Capability and Innovation - Dr Karen Lewis

Karen studied for a degree in biology and PhD in microbiology. Before joining BBSRC, she worked in commercial research and development with both a small biotechnology company and a large corporate. Karen has extensive experience within BBSRC, and the research councils in a broad range of research and innovation strategy areas. She has held a number of senior roles in what is now the BBSRC Capability and Innovation domain, including leading BBSRC business engagement activities, and establishing a knowledge exchange and commercialisation team. More recently, Karen has also been involved in developing the BBSRC research and innovation campus strategy, working on BBSRC’s bioeconomy strategy, and ensuring these enable bioscience research to deliver benefit and impact for the UK.

As Executive Director, Capability and Innovation, Karen’s responsibilities include:

  • Innovation strategy, particularly through research and innovation campuses and infrastructure
  • Business engagement
  • Programmes supporting and enabling innovation and knowledge exchange including enabling the emergence of bioscience based businesses
  • High level skills developments in the biosciences - studentships and fellowships
  • Representing BBSRC on the Rainbow Seed Fund, NRP Translational Fund and Plant Bioscience Ltd.

Email Karen Lewis


Chief Operating Officer - Bill Poll

Having gained a degree in Materials Engineering, Bill began his career in the private sector, spending 25 years working in a variety of small and large (FTSE 100) organisations, initially in manufacturing operations and latterly in business improvement and project and programme management.

Since joining BBSRC in 2009, Bill has been responsible for delivering a variety of significant business change projects and programmes on behalf of both BBSRC and the wider cross-Research Councils/UKRI community involving high complexity, multiple stakeholder environments.

In particular, as part of the senior team overseeing the implementation of BBSRC’S campus strategy, Bill has been involved in the delivery of our Research and innovation Campus programme since its initial announcement in 2011. This has included the investment, with partners, of over £200 million in facilities and infrastructure at Babraham (near Cambridge), Norwich, Rothamsted, Edinburgh (Roslin Easterbush) and Aberystwyth, and the establishment and operation of multi-partner campus operating companies.

As BBSRC Chief Operating Officer, Bill’s responsibilities include:

  • Executive Lead for all BBSRC activities relating to finance, estates, human resources, risk management, communications and engagement, health and safety, information management, planning and programme support, commercial and legal.
  • Leading BBSRC’s organisational transformation within UKRI.

In addition, as a member of BBSRC Executive team, Bill’s role includes:

  • Lead for BBSRC’s relationship with three of its strategically-funded institutes.
  • BBSRC lead for major capital projects including:
    • Phase 2 of the £250 million+ Pirbright Development Programme
    • Development of John Innes Centre Next Generation Infrastructure project.

Bill continues to be an active member of the senior team overseeing the implementation of BBSRC’S campus strategy, and is a Director of AIEC Ltd, the operating company for the Aberystwyth innovation campus.

Email Bill Poll