University of Nottingham’s Prof Sarah Sharples to become Chief Scientific Adviser at the DfT

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and People at the University of Notingham, Professor Sarah Sharples, will become Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Transport in July 2021.

As Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Sharples will advise government Ministers and civil servants on all aspects of policy on science and technology, identify and share good practice in STEM-related areas, and facilitate communication on high profile STEM-related challenges for government. She will undertake her role as a secondment, retaining one day a week as Professor in the Faculty of Engineering.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West congratulated Professor Sharples: “I am delighted that Sarah is joining a number of our colleagues in providing impartial scientific advice at the highest levels of government. With Professor Jonathan Van Tam as Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Professor Tom Rodden as Chief Scientific Adviser at DCMS serving on the Sage Committee, these roles have never been more important or more in the public eye.

“Her contribution over many years at Nottingham has been as dedicated as it is impressive. I am particularly grateful for her recent work as Pro Vice-Chancellor in developing our EDI Strategy and establishing roles throughout the University to support a positive culture change. She has laid the foundations for further progress in submitting the University’s application for the Race Equality Charter.

“Sarah has championed the benefits of a diverse culture and supported our colleagues and students with protected characteristics to help ensure their contribution is recognised and celebrated, culminating in the University’s first Diversity Festival. I wish her every success in her new role and am also very pleased that she will continue her contribution as a member of our University.”

Looking forward to her new role, Professor Sharples said: “I am honoured to be taking on the role of Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department for Transport at such an important time. Recovery of transport systems post-Covid, as well as addressing the major challenges around transport decarbonisation require significant input from engineering, science and behavioural science research, and I am very much looking forward to working with colleagues across the UK on these significant activities.”

“I am very proud of all that I have achieved in my roles for the University, particularly since 2018 as Pro Vice-Chancellor for EDI and People. Whilst I will be very sorry to no longer be working day-to-day with the incredible teams of staff and students working in support of EDI and People across the University, I am pleased that by undertaking my new role as a secondment I will remain able to support this important work as a member of University staff.”

As Pro Vice-Chancellor for EDI, Professor Sharples holds a University Executive Board position with responsibility for driving equality, diversity and inclusion policy and initiatives across the University to build a more cohesive, inclusive and diverse culture. She was previously Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange in the Faculty of Engineering, which has 800 staff across six departments with more than 4,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

In an academic career of more than 20 years at the University of Nottingham, Professor Sharples has specialised in research into the human factors of transport, manufacturing and healthcare – jointly establishing the Rail Human Factors group in 1998. She was President of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors 2014-15 and Head of the Human Factors Research Group from 2006-2014.


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