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Welcome to the second outing of the FMRI blog! In this post, I will be explaining what a Lead Scientist does and why it is such an important role in an infrastructure programme like FMRI. I will also be introducing you to FMRI’s very own Lead Scientist, Dr. Katherine ‘Katy’ Hill.

Unlocking Potential

We need increasing amounts of knowledge and information from the ocean to chart a sustainable future on this changing planet. The Future Marine Research Infrastructure programme seeks to enable this by delivering an ambitious renewal of the UK’s world-leading research infrastructure. Yet the positive impact of these transformative technologies can only be achieved through close collaboration with the users of this capability: the UK and international science community. We need to consider future ways of working, the development of a future-ready workforce and built national and international partnerships that are rooted in best practice. The role of Lead Scientist is key to unlocking this potential.

Creating the role of Lead Scientist within the FMRI executive team is part of our commitment to placing science need at the centre of decision-making. By appointing a respected figure from the science community, the role provides FMRI with a single, authoritative voice to lead the dialogue with science and policy stakeholders and integrate their opinions. It complements the role of the Science Advisory Group (SAG), which draws on a broad base of interests and expertise to inform the science case for a national capability, by combining both the knowledge and the time to lead in-depth engagement with key stakeholders. The Lead Scientist can explore the impact of different models of infrastructure and hold dialogues to influence policy, a critical strand in unlocking the potential of future technologies.

Scientific Leadership for Future Marine Infrastructure

The latest recruit to the FMRI team is our Lead Scientist, Dr. Katy Hill. Katy brings to the programme a wealth of experience in providing scientific leadership for major UK and international ocean observing initiatives. As a former Scientific Officer for Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System, she is familiar with the challenges of leading requirements-driven planning for a national capability in ocean observing such as FMRI.

Interviewing Katy for this post, I began by asking her why she was excited to be joining the FMRI team.

“The vision of the FMRI programme inspires me because it is unique in rising to the challenge of meeting our marine science ambitions while also meeting the net-zero carbon emissions challenge, both of which are vital for charting a sustainable future for our planet, including achieving planetary net zero. The UK is demonstrating real international leadership by taking such a comprehensive, holistic and forward-looking approach to transitioning its research capability, and I am both excited and honoured to be able to play a part in that.”

I then asked Katy how she interprets her role in the programme.

“My career has been focused on scientific planning and the development of research infrastructure nationally, internationally and through intergovernmental programmes. I studied and worked in the UK, Canada and Australian systems and am experienced in organising scientific programmes, developing science cases, building partnerships and translating across organisations, communities and disciplines, though I am no longer a practicing research scientist. This allows me to look across disciplines to find the best solution for the entire community. I see my role as being to connect the dots across current and emerging science need, observing capabilities and policy. From this we can draw a picture of what the future research infrastructure needs to look like and build a community around that.”

Alongside her new FMRI role, Katy is also the Lead Scientist for the UK Global Ocean Observing initiative funded by Defra and sits on several international boards and committees. These include as Vice Chair for the World Meteorological Organisation’s Advisory Group on the Ocean and membership of the UN Ocean Decade Data Coordination Group. She has also sat on expert review committees of ocean observing programmes including EuroGOOS and the NOAA Global Ocean Monitoring and Observing Programme. Katy’s profile within the community means that she can engage influential stakeholders and shape the programme to deliver maximum scientific impact.

You can learn more about Katy’s experience and role on the Lead Scientist page of the website.