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Recognition for Lancaster professor

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Publication date3/03/15

Professor elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, is recognised for her “high calibre” research and role as advisor to the Scottish Government

Professor Louise Heathwaite is one of 56 “distinguished individuals”, spanning science, technology, business and the arts, elected in 2015 to join Scotland’s National Academy.

Louise is Professor of Land and Water Science in the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University and also works part time for the Scottish Government as their Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) for Rural Affairs and the Environment.

Her expertise is in nutrient biogeochemistry. She is an active scientist with more than 150 international peer reviewed papers. Her research is focused on diffuse pollution and in particular understanding the pathways of nitrogen and phosphorus loss from agricultural land to water, and the implications for freshwater quality. Louise is internationally recognised for advancing the Critical Source Areas concept that forms the cornerstone of many models of diffuse pollution risk that are used widely in policy.

In her work for the Scottish Government, Louise provides science leadership on rural affairs and the environment, which involves the integration and effective use of evidence in policy areas ranging from climate change to food security, and from land management to animal health. Louise also acts as the main conduit for strategic science engagement with the UK Government and UK Research Councils in these areas.

Louise underwent a rigorous 5 stage election process before being made one of three new Fellows who the Royal Society of Edinburgh say represent: “the highest calibre of scientific enquiry taking place across the UK”.

"I am delighted to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,” Louise said, “particularly as this honour recognises both the contribution to science of my own research and also the work I undertake at the science-policy interface.”

Before taking up the Chief Scientific Advisor position, Louise was seconded to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) working as a ‘science champion’, leading one of their core research themes: The Sustainable Use of Natural Resources.

Louise is a member of NERC Council and Defra's Science Advisory Council. She is a member (ex officio) of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, on the Steering Board of the UK Collaborative on Development Science (UKCDS), and the Steering Group of the Government Office for Science Animal and Plant Health in the UK steering group.

The Lancaster Environment Centre was ranked third in the UK for the real world impact of its research, in the latest Research Excellence Framework