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York researchers appointed to UK government programme

Posted on 3 May 2019

Researchers from York have been appointed to a new UK government programme examining some of the UK’s most pressing environmental issues to ensure that future policies are informed by the best possible research.

Green meadow with a blue sky

Dr Sarah Moller, from the Department of Chemistry, and Professor Bob Doherty, from York Management School, are part of a team of six senior academic Fellows appointed by The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) to work on the programme.

Each academic has a particular area of focus. They will work collaboratively to identify how a policy change in one area might affect another, and make sure the connections between environmental issues are properly considered.

Air quality

Dr Moller’s focus will be on air quality systems.

She said: "Air pollution is a complex issue and one with significant impact on human health, the environment and the UK economy.

“I have been working at the interface between air quality science and policy for the past six years, focussing on building partnerships and developing mechanisms for the co-design of research and policy.

“This programme is a really exciting opportunity to extend that and work at the highest levels within Defra to develop and embed methods to assess collective impacts of policy decisions within and across key systems.

"This is of utmost importance for the achievement of goals for air quality, where changes in linked systems such as energy, farming, or transport, exert considerable influence on our ability to deliver improvements."‌

Food systems

Professor Doherty will focus on the UK food system.

He said: "The UK food and farming sector is critical to the UK economy. It employs one in eight people and is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK. However, our food system is under increasing pressure from a range of environmental and socioeconomic drivers not least climate change, increasing health costs from unhealthy diets and increasing political risks.

“This opportunity to work as part of the new Systems Programme team in Defra is an exciting opportunity to take a food systems approach and embed the research evidence from the work of IknowFood, N8 Agrifood and the Global Food Security Programme and others in UK policy to create real transformative change."

Dr Moller and Professor Doherty started their roles for Defra on 1 April 2019. The new team of senior academic Fellows also includes academics from the Universities of Manchester, Oxford, Plymouth and Reading.

About this research

Find out more about Professor Doherty’s IKnowFood project.

Explore our research.