I was very pleased to welcome our new council members to Swindon two weeks ago as part of the BBSRC induction process. I and the Executive team met with them to discuss our expectations of Council members and to answer any questions that they had – they also had some good suggestions for us in terms how Council itself could work. We are very grateful to people from the BBSRC community who carry out important work for BBSRC – not only as Council members but also as members of panels and Boards and our peer reviewers. I realise that for many people this can seem like a potential distraction from the day job but this is far from the truth. In interacting with others on panels and Boards, for example, you can become much better connected within the community and gain a greater understanding of the broader issues that we face as well as the more detailed specific scientific challenges. So I would urge you to contribute in this way whether it is for BBSRC or one of the other Research Councils. I am certain that had I not sat on Strategy Board and Council as well as many panels and committees, my eligibility for my current role would have been severely curtailed!

So this is a deliberately unsubtle way to alert you that BBSRC is looking to appoint committed individuals from academia, industry, other user communities and civil society to fill a number of vacancies on our Strategy (Advisory) Panels, the Pool of Experts and Follow-on Fund Committee. I am very keen to obtain more diversity in appointments to BBSRC Panels and Committees. This will enable us to better reflect the different needs and cultures that exist within our academic community and wider society. So BBSRC would welcome applications from a diverse range of candidates irrespective of gender, race, age, sexual orientation or disability.

The nature of modern science means that the support we seek from stakeholders and the community for BBSRC work should be reciprocated – so it goes without saying that I and others at BBSRC are also happy to represent BBSRC, or act in a personal capacity, on external panels and Boards. For example, recently I took part in a future scoping exercise for the NC3Rs – an organisation which has enabled the UK to lead the way in terms of developing viable alternatives to animal experimentation. It was great to catch up with a few collaborators from my former life as well as contribute to the excellent discussions. This was also pertinent as BBSRC and institutions from across our community have joined many others in signing the Concordat on Openness in Animal Research.

I was very honoured to be elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences this month – along with Professor Dame Janet Thornton, who I know well from her leadership of the EBI and championing of ELIXIR. The Academy is the independent body in the UK that represents the diverse spectrum of medical science – from basic research through clinical application to healthcare delivery. I hope that I will be able as a Fellow to contribute to the activities of the Society and look forward to the induction day on 2 July. Incidentally the academy currently has a vacancy for a policy officer.

Finally, my husband and I managed to take a break and spend a long weekend in Vienna, where of the many enjoyable sights, the most interesting was a visit to Albertina Gallery. There are many wonderful museums in Vienna but this one has a stunning collection of graphic art including the famous drawing of a hare by Albrecht Durer. In real life it was a miniature marvel but there were also drawings by another favourite of mine, Rembrandt, as well as contemporary scenes by Caneletto and others. There are many other paintings and artefacts but the drawings for me were exceptionally special!

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