CHEMICAL engineer Max Lu has been appointed to the UK Council for Science and Technology (CST), and will advise the Prime Minister on strategic science and technology policy issues.
Lu, who is an IChemE Fellow, is the first chemical engineer to join the expert committee, which focuses upon issues that cut across government departments.
He told The Chemical Engineer that during the three-year term, he will be interested in contributing ideas in areas of industrial strategy, research-industry links, digital transformations, and how arts and social sciences could enhance the impact of STEM education and research.
“I am very honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to national science and technology policy in such a capacity,” Lu said. “In doing so I will draw from my experience and network from across the professions and the research sector.”
Currently working as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey, Lu was previously provost and senior vice-president at the University of Queensland, Australia.
He has published more than 500 research papers and filed over 20 international patents, with work including a new method to synthesise highly-reactive single crystal TiO2, insights into molecular engineering techniques of membranes and efficient photocatalysts for clean energy.
He believes that his background in the profession could help provide unique insights to policy issues.
“Like many chemical engineers, I have a diverse range of interests and experience enabling me to understand complex and multidisciplinary issues. I always like the systems approach to addressing problems and developing solutions,” he said.
While he was keen to point out that his role as a member of the CST does not intrinsically represent the chemical engineering profession, he said he wants to work with and take advice from contacts and colleagues within the community.
“I hope I will make a difference in helping to shape UK's future policy in science and technology to ensure its global leadership in research and innovation and economic competitiveness,” he added.
The CST is an advisory non-departmental public body of the UK government that meets four times a year, taking a medium-to-longer term approach in its recommendations. It is co-chaired by the government chief scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport, and an independent chair, Dame Nancy Rothwell. In total it has 19 independent members from a range of backgrounds – listed here.
Four other new members were appointed alongside Lu, including president of the British Academy David Cannadine, and online media and technology sector investment leader Suranga Chandratillake.
During the period 2017-2018, the Council’s priorities are listed as entrepreneurship education, robotics, automation and artificial intelligence, modelling, capital markets for science and technology firms, technology through the life course and industrial strategy.