Professor Steve Cowley, leading theoretical physicist and President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, has been appointed Acting Director of the Oxford Martin School. An international authority on nuclear fusion, Professor Cowley is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and has recently completed two terms as a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology.
His appointment follows the announcement that Achim Steiner, current Director of the Oxford Martin School, will take up a new role as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in June.
Professor Cowley will continue in his role at Corpus Christi, and will be supported in his work at the Oxford Martin School by its Senior Adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, who will increase his time at the School until a permanent Director is appointed.
A former student of Corpus Christi, and the first scientist to hold the post of President there, Professor Cowley has taught physics at Princeton, where he received his PhD, and at UCLA and Imperial College London. From 2009 to 2016 he was Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA). He has a lifelong interest in realising fusion power, and his other research interests include the origin of magnetic fields in the universe and explosive events in astrophysical and laboratory plasmas. In 2012 he was awarded the Glazebrook Medal by The Institute of Physics.
Professor Cowley said: “I share James Martin’s vision that the challenges of the 21st century require new innovative solutions. I am delighted to be working with the team at the Oxford Martin School to advance his vision.”
Achim Steiner said Professor Cowley’s appointment would ensure the work of the School could continue smoothly while the process of recruiting a new Director took place.
“We are extremely fortunate that someone as distinguished as Professor Cowley is able to serve as Acting Director during this period,” said Mr Steiner. “His academic track record and clear commitment to innovative research that creates solutions to major global challenges are a perfect fit with the aims of the Oxford Martin School.
“While I will greatly miss working at the School, and within the academic community here in Oxford, I know that the research excellence and engagement with the wider world on which the School prides itself will be able to continue seamlessly, thanks to Professor Cowley’s appointment.”
Professor Roger Goodman, Head of Oxford’s Social Sciences Division and Chair of the School’s Management Committee, said: “Professor Cowley is an internationally-renowned scientist with extensive experience of connecting science and research with public policy making. In addition to this, the fact that he is a President of one of Oxford’s colleges means he will play a valuable role in fostering even closer collaboration between the School’s research teams and the wider University community.”