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2019 call for expressions of interest to join core membership of our Strategy Advisory Panels

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Call status: Open
Application deadline: 14 January 2020, 16:00


BBSRC, as part of UK Research and Innovation, plays a crucial role in the health and vibrancy of UK bioscience. Every year we invest more than £450 million on behalf of the UK public in research, innovation, training and capabilities in universities and institutes across the UK. Our aim is to sustain the excellence of, and maximise impact from, the UK bioscience community by furthering scientific knowledge, promoting economic growth and improving the quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Our research investments support frontier bioscience that advances our understanding of the fundamental rules of life and drives the development of transformative and innovative technologies. The forward look for UK bioscience is structured around three themes that outline key challenges for the years ahead:

  • Advancing the frontiers of bioscience discovery: understanding the rules of life; transformative technologies
  • Tackling strategic challenges: bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food; bioscience for renewable resources and clean growth; bioscience for an integrated understanding of health
  • Building strong foundations: people and talent; infrastructure, collaboration, partnership and knowledge exchange.

Call for expressions of interest – core membership for Strategy Advisory Panels

UKRI-BBSRC’s Strategy Advisory Panels play a key role in delivering UKRI-BBSRC's mission by providing expert input and advice that helps shape and develop our strategy and ensures that our investment decisions are supported by expert knowledge and insight from members of the scientific research and innovation community, including those with broad experience between and across disciplines.The core panels are made up of 6-8 members, supplemented as appropriate with additional subject matter experts according to business need at any given time.

Members of our Strategy Advisory Panels are responsible for developing and maintaining an overview of research, training and innovation across the biosciences, in universities, research institutes, and business in the UK and globally, and in doing so the Panels consider the relevant ethical, legal and social context.

We are seeking expressions of interest to join our:

This call is open to anyone who fulfils the role profiles and expertise requirements. The final selection of candidates from the expressions of interest will be made by the UKRI-BBSRC Appointments Board on the basis of individual knowledge, experience and the need for expertise in particular research and innovation areas, along with the coverage of panel membership overall in relation to the expertise requirements of each Strategy Advisory Panels. As part of this programme we aspire to reflect the diversity and experience of the UKRI-BBSRC community; however, all applications will be assessed on individual merit.

We are particularly interested in ensuring that science in society and industrial expertise is reflected across the breadth of the Strategy Advisory Panels, so would welcome applicants with expertise in these areas.

Person specification

Detailed information about the requirements of a position with the different Strategy Advisory Panels is provided in the role descriptions and expertise requirements detailed below.

All applicants are expected to provide evidence of:

  • Your ability to contribute creatively, constructively and strategically to the future direction of UK biosciences
  • Your knowledge and understanding of the bioscience landscape in the UK and internationally (both broadly and in reference to your own area of expertise)
  • Your knowledge or experience of policy or strategy development or societal perspectives on the biosciences
  • Your understanding of the interface between academia, industry and other relevant BBSRC stakeholders, and additionally awareness of user and developer perspectives.

The types of evidence which applicants may provide will depend on the background of the applicant, but may include:

  • Participation on strategic or peer review committees, boards or panels
  • Industrial, business and innovation experience
  • Experience of activities related to skills and careers for the biosciences/research more widely, including doctoral training, researcher development and research support for teams in the biosciences
  • Expertise of societal, ethical or legal considerations related to the biosciences/research more widely, particularly expertise of working on science in society
  • Publication and funding history
  • Research outputs and contributions to your area of research, for example patents and software development
  • Presence in your community e.g. invited presentations, keynote talks at major conferences
  • Expertise in broad multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary working across fields in the biosciences and more widely
  • Experience of working in a policy development environment
  • Work with potential discoveries, societal or economic impact of research
  • Experience of the development of: infrastructure, technologies, software, data management, standards etc
  • Work with stakeholder groups relevant to the aims of BBSRC and UKRI
  • Project management, particularly of large or complex projects.

For all roles, we expect you to be able to commit the necessary time and attention to your appointment, as set out in the details provided about the role, and to have the full support or the necessary permission of your employer.

You will be expected to attend two meetings a year, each of 1-2 days duration. The role requires reading of papers prior to meetings and preparation of comments on items or papers where appropriate. You may also be asked to provide additional strategic advice to UKRI-BBSRC on an ad-hoc basis by email or through participation in a Task and Finish Group set up by the Strategy Advisory Panel. The overall commitment required as a panel member is 5-6 days per year for strategy panel activities, and up to another 5-6 days per year for possible involvement in any Task and Finish Groups which are formed to address specific strategic areas in greater depth than covered by Strategy Advisory Panels. Strategy Advisory Panel members are also required to fulfil an induction process as a new member of the Panel.

Appointments to the Strategy Advisory Panels will be for up to three years. Travel and subsistence will be paid, along with an honorarium per meeting – see UKRI-BBSRC handbook for Council, Board, Panel and Committee members (PDF) for further details.

What does the role involve?

As a member of a UKRI-BBSRC Strategy Advisory Panel, you will play a key role in delivering UKRI-BBSRC's mission by developing and maintaining an overview of research, training and innovation across the biosciences, in universities, research institutes, and business in the UK and globally, and in doing so the Panels consider the relevant ethical, legal and social context in order to provide UKRI-BBSRC with:

  • Strategic advice on: UKRI-BBSRC’s investment portfolio and its place within the wider bioscience research and innovation landscape; and BBSRC’s research and innovation priorities relevant to the particular Strategy Advisory Panel’s remit
  • Horizon scanning and identification of emerging opportunities and advice on the most effective strategic intervention
  • Constructive challenge and assurance that UKRI-BBSRC’s developing ideas, policies and strategies are fit for purpose, taking account of all necessary stakeholder perspectives
  • Monitoring and benchmarking of existing activities and investments, and their impacts.

Role profile

We welcome applicants with demonstrable expertise and significant experience relevant to the remit of the panels (see below). The membership of the panels is expected to comprise a combination of perspectives, including knowledge of challenge-focused and frontier research, skills and careers expertise, industrial expertise, and wider stakeholder issues relevant to the biosciences including societal/ethical experience.

In addition to the person specification, candidates for Strategy Advisory Panels are expected to evidence and demonstrate:

  • Your ability to contribute creatively, constructively and strategically to the future direction of UK biosciences
  • Your knowledge and understanding of the bioscience landscape in the UK and internationally (both broadly and in reference to your own area of expertise)
  • Your knowledge or experience of policy or strategy development or societal perspectives on the biosciences
  • Your understanding of the interface between academia, industry and other relevant BBSRC stakeholders, and additionally awareness of user and developer perspectives.

Expertise requirements

We are looking to appoint members to each of the following Panels:

Bioscience for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Strategy Advisory Panel (previously Agriculture and Food Security Strategy Advisory Panel)

UKRI-BBSRC has identified bioscience for sustainable agriculture and food as one of three challenge led strategic priorities as part of our Forward look for UK bioscience. AFS Strategy Advisory Panel has focus on the bioscience needed to deliver more productive, healthy, resilient and sustainable agriculture and food systems. For additional context we would recommend that applicants view the AFS strategic framework (PDF), UKRI-BBSRC forward look and UKRI-BBSRC Delivery Plan. As part of our horizon scanning work to address food security and climate challenges, we are keen to explore novel farming methods/systems/ non-conventional agricultural approaches.

Across the Panel, it is essential that expertise in the following areas is represented:

  • Agricultural Systems-Understanding (at multiple scales) the complex interactions between the biology of crops and farmed animals, their environments and management (including agroforestry).
  • Crop science – A broad understanding of the research involving crop plants (including algae and cultivated mushrooms) grown to be harvested as food, livestock fodder, or for any other economic purpose.
  • Farmed Animal Science- a broad understanding of the area (including aquaculture)
  • Food production and human health- understanding the complex links between food production and human nutrition and health outcomes.
  • Food Safety- A broad understanding of the microbial and non-microbial threats to food safety.
  • Modelling/data- understanding modelling and data approaches for agri-food research.
  • Post farm gate- understanding of the biological research challenges post farm gate.
  • Precision agriculture and smart technology- understanding combining bioscience with novel engineering and technology solutions, including digital and predictive tools, to improve decision making in agriculture.
  • Genomics and genetic diversity- understanding how these can be exploited to develop the next generation of improved crops and farmed animals.
  • Soil – Understanding of the physical, biological and chemical components of soil research, including roots and rhizosphere interaction, as well as soil borne diseases.

Preference will be given to those demonstrating breadth of expertise.

Bioscience for an Integrated Understanding of Health Strategy Advisory Panel (previously Bioscience for Health Strategy Advisory Panel)

Bioscience for an Integrated Understanding of Health (BIUH) is one of the three key strategic challenge areas for UKRI-BBSRC, focussing upon improving the health and wellbeing of both animals and humans across the life-course. This centres upon providing a deep, integrated understanding of the ‘healthy system’, and of the factors that maintain health and wellness under stress and biological or environmental challenge.

Applications are invited from those with expertise aligned to the key areas of focus for BIUH, as outlined in the strategic framework document. These are:

  • Lifelong Health: understanding of the mechanisms underlying normal physiology and homeostatic control during early development and across the lifespan.
  • One Health: approaches that combine biological, veterinary and medical research to improve the health and wellbeing of animals and people in their environment (incl. zoonoses and anti-microbial resistance)
  • Diet and Health: understanding of how foods, nutrients and whole diets influence cellular processes and overall health outcomes, including the integration of nutrition, agriculture and food processing research.
  • Technology for Health: development of enabling biotechnology and platform technologies (e.g. gene-editing technologies, artificial intelligence and data-driven biology), and innovative approaches to support the translation of basic bioscience research, with wide-ranging applications relevant to human and animal health research and the production of biopharmaceuticals.

This may encompass a broad knowledge of one or more of the following areas e.g. Animal Health and Welfare (incl. 3R's); Crop and Food Sciences; Frontier Bioscience; Immunology; Microbiology; Neuroscience and Behaviour (incl. mental health); Physiology; Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology; Systems Biology.

In addition, to these specific areas of expertise, applications from those with experience of one or more of the following elements are of particular interest e.g.:

  • Application of mathematical and computational modelling approaches;
  • Research and innovation in an Official Development Assistance context, as well as international collaboration more broadly;
  • Research and innovation in an industrial context;
  • Knowledge exchange activities with research users (e.g. policy-makers, public), including the translation/commercialisation of research outputs;
  • Interdisciplinary research and other forms of working across traditional disciplinary boundaries (both within BBSRC and across UKRI).
  • Social dimensions of the conduct and outcomes of research (e.g. ethical considerations, social issues and public salience).

Bioscience for Renewable Resources and Clean Growth Strategy Advisory Panel (previously Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy Strategy Advisory Panel)

Bioscience for Renewable Resources and Clean Growth is one of three strategic challenges identified by UKRI-BBSRC in its 2019 Delivery Plan (PDF). The move towards biologically-based processes offers opportunities to sustainably manufacture, or offer services leading to the more sustainable manufacture of materials, biopharmaceuticals, chemicals and energy with improved performance, lower operational costs and reduced carbon emissions. In many instances this may be achievable through the greater use of residues or wastes, leading to a more circular bioeconomy and providing the opportunity for multiple benefits through remediation of air, land and water.

We wish to particularly encourage applications from those with expertise in:

  • Chemical engineering and process engineering: scaling up as well as scaling out processes
  • Whole systems analysis using interdisciplinary approaches e.g. lifecycle assessment,
  • Societal impact assessment: the application of social science tools to assess socioeconomic impacts of new products and processes.

People and Talent Strategy Advisory Panel (previously Bioscience Skills and Careers Strategy Advisory Panel)

The People and Talent Strategy Advisory Panel is responsible for developing and maintaining UKRI-BBSRC policies to support the supply of people training in bioscience disciplines for careers in research and innovation and in support of a scientifically-articulate workforce for the wider economy.

The panel provides advice on a range of issues, in particular:

  • The talent ecosystem, ensuring an appropriate flow of talented people into bioscience training and professional development for the benefit of research communities and the wider economy
  • Postgraduate training and development
  • Research teams, including postdoctoral researchers, technicians, research leadership in support of healthy and productive research environments
  • Research culture, including equality, diversity and inclusion within the biosciences
  • The movement of creative bioscientists and their ideas, knowledge and expertise between sectors of research and the economy.

We wish to encourage applications from those within industry with expertise in sector skills needs.  Additionally, applicants with a background in doctoral training and skills and careers development, researcher development and experience of research support for teams in the biosciences within academia and industry are also welcome.

Transformative Technologies Strategy Advisory Panel (previously Exploiting New Ways of Working Strategy Advisory Panel)

The Transformative Technologies Strategy Advisory Panel has a focus on the tools, technologies and approaches that enable researchers to push the boundaries of bioscience discovery and stimulate innovation.

The panel will provide advice to UKRI-BBSRC on a broad range of topics including:

  • Disruptive experimental methods and technologies to advance bioscience research and innovation
  • Research employing quantitative approaches to harness large scale data in the biosciences
  • Development, dissemination and stewardship of computational methods, software, data resources and cyberinfrastructure
  • Emerging interdisciplinary fields within the biosciences such as synthetic biology, systems biology and artificial intelligence.

We would particularly welcome applications from individuals who have expertise that spans disciplinary boundaries, including the interface the between the physical and life sciences. In addition, applicants with experience of working in both academia and industry are encouraged to apply.

Assessment process

Expressions of interest will be reviewed initially by UKRI-BBSRC staff against the criteria set out in the person specification and role descriptions. Recommendations from UKRI-BBSRC will be made to UKRI-BBSRC’s Appointments Board. UKRI-BBSRC Appointments Board has delegated authority from the UKRI-BBSRC Executive Chair and is responsible for making decisions on appointments. The Appointments Board Chair is a member of UKRI-BBSRC Council, and the Deputy Chair and members are representatives of the community.

In addition to reviewing applications against the criteria for appointment, the Appointments Board will consider people diversity, institutional and industry balance as part of its decision making process. UKRI-BBSRC seeks to balance institutional representation on our Boards, Panels and Committees. Consequently, there may be competition for places if applicants come from the same institution or organisation, and particularly if those applicants have similar expertise. If your institution or organisation is already represented on one of UKRI-BBSRC’s Strategy Advisory Panels, it will not prevent you from being appointed, but it will be important to demonstrate the distinctiveness and relevance of your expertise and experience.

Equality and diversity

We recognise that diverse ideas, experiences, backgrounds and perspectives are fundamental to successful science and innovation and we are committed to ensuring that our Committees, Panels and Boards are inclusive, diverse, and representative of the research community.

Through this appointment activity, we aspire to improve the diversity of our Panels. We are committed to the principle of providing equal opportunities for all. We are keen to obtain more diversity in our appointments so would welcome applications from a range of candidates from all backgrounds. Applications from women, those with a disability, and members of minority ethnic groups, who in some cases are underrepresented on panels are especially welcome. Applications from business, user and government colleagues are also particularly encouraged. We are also keen to encourage applications from experts based overseas.

An Equality and Impact Assessment (PDF) has been developed to support and inform applicants, and ensure that we enable participation and attendance at meetings. For example, we use venues that have good transport links and are accessible, we will also contribute towards additional costs for caring responsibilities to enable you to attend. Please do not hesitate to contact the office if you wish to discuss further, or have any additional needs to enable you to submit an application to this call.

To support us in assessing how effective our policies and procedures are in eliminating unlawful discrimination and promoting opportunities, we ask that you provide diversity information that will be used anonymously by UKRI-BBSRC for statistical purposes. This information will be treated in confidence by UKRI-BBSRC and will not be used in the assessment of applications.

Career Breaks and Flexible Working

Time spent outside the active research and business environment, whether through career breaks or flexible working will be taken into account in the assessment process.

Applicants should indicate any substantive periods of absence within their application. Further details on the nature of the absence and how it has affected track record, productivity and career progression may be provided, if desired. Information provided will be used only to make appropriate adjustments when assessing an individual’s track record, productivity and career progression.

In assessing the effects of career breaks or flexible working, the Appointments Board will note the applicant’s career trajectory at the beginning of a break, relative to the stage of the applicant’s career and/or professional standing. In assessing applicants, the Board will recognise that the effects on productivity of a career break, or a period of flexible working, may continue beyond the return to work.

Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice

As a public investor in research, UKRI-BBSRC aims to facilitate the highest standards for research integrity. UKRI is signatory to the Concordat to Support Integrity (PDF); UKRI-BBSRC also implements the Research Councils’ Guidelines and Policy on the Governance of Good Research Conduct (PDF), alongside our guidance on Safeguarding Good Scientific Practice. Appointees to UKRI-BBSRC Committees, Panels and Pool of Experts are expected to be aware of their obligations in regard to these policies.

Applicants are requested to declare if they are, or have been, subject to any current or past scientific misconduct investigation(s). UKRI-BBSRC reserves the right to reject any application where such issues are considered an impediment to the individual holding a public appointment. This information will be treated in confidence.

How to apply

Application deadline: 14 January 2020, 16:00.

Applicants should:

Applicants can apply for a position with up to three of the Strategy Advisory Panels.

The Expressions of Interest form contains the following sections:

  • Personal information (e.g. name, organisation, contact details)
  • Free text sections:
    • Expertise and experience: You should describe the expertise and experience that you can you offer in terms of both research and innovation fields, and professional expertise, respectively, and provide the evidence to demonstrate this (maximum 150 words each).
    • Personal statement: You should describe why you are interested in the role (maximum 150 words) and what you will bring to it (maximum 300 words)
    • Other: Where applicable to their current or previous roles, candidates should provide evidence of -
      • Research funding history (five most significant grants over the last five years)
      • Publication history (ten most significant publications over the last five years)
  • Diversity information, including information about career breaks and flexible working.

Key dates

Call open 10 December 2019
Application deadline 14 January 2020, 16:00
BBSRC Office review of applications January – February 2020
Appointments Board meeting Early March 2020
Outcomes communicated Late March 2020

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