Distinguished Professor takes key advisory role at DEFRA


Distinguished Professor Louise Heathwaite
Distinguished Professor Louise Heathwaite

An internationally-recognised scientist and member of Lancaster University’s senior management team has been appointed to a key Government scientific advisory role.

Distinguished Professor Louise Heathwaite, Lancaster University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, has been appointed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as Chair of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Science Advisory Council (SAC).

The SAC provides independent advice on science policy and strategy to Defra and helps guide Defra’s scientific priorities and planning, including long-range planning as well as dealing with immediate risks and opportunities.  It is an advisory non-departmental public body.

A hydrochemist and active scientist, Professor Heathwaite is recognised internationally as an authority on diffuse environmental pollution and, in particular, understanding the pathways of nitrogen and phosphorus loss from agricultural land to water, and the implications for freshwater quality.

Currently a Distinguished Professor in the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC), she was the first Director of the Centre for Sustainable Water Management at Lancaster University; one of the precursor interdisciplinary research centres that contributed to the formation of LEC.

Appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) of the University in 2019, Professor Heathwaite was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2018 for services to scientific research and scientific advice to government and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2015. 

Between 2012-17, she was Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish Government on Rural Affairs, Food and Environment. In addition to her many other external roles she also served as a member of Defra’s Science Advisory Council from 2011-17.

Her appointment from July 1, 2021 is for three years.

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