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Prof Dan Osborn
Prof Dan Osborn profile picture
  • Emeritus Professor of Earth Sciences
  • Dept of Earth Sciences
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

I have a long term interest in how knowledge and research are translated into policies and decisions. My interest was stimulated by my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at UCL in Pharmacology. I was soon busy working with others to change government policy on postgraduate education. I then moved from MRC funding to NERC where I was allowed scope to develop and work on the significance of the pollution of seabirds. Again, this meant working with others to change policy approaches and then taking part in the implementation of that new approach. It also led to Nature publications. Doing interesting research and changing policy can be complementary. In the 1980s, I spent two years seconded to what we now call Defra working in partnership with experts in planning, economics and public administration to advise Ministers and senior officials on new policy lines to protect human health and the environment. This work on pollution control and trends in emissions indirectly led to an interest in how chemical accidents at large industrial plants could be prevented and follow-up work developing technical aspects of legislation in Europe.  Latterly, the links between people and their environment have moved centre stage for me as it seemed clear that approaches to risk and environmental resources were not delivering sustainable outcomes fast enough to deal with the challenges arising from a growing population and a changing climate. I felt more attention was needed on the people-environment dynamic. Following a period working for NERC in senior management roles, running research programmes, government-RCUK partnerships and fostering early work on what became the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, I’ve returned to UCL to see how our knowledge of global systems and natural resources plays out at the local level. I’ll be interested to see what policies and implementation measures may be needed to help people and communities live well in a sustainable fashion. I am currently, with colleagues from LSHTM, UCL and elsewhere, working as lead contributor to a chapter of the evidence report for the upcoming UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.

Research Groups
Research Summary

Lane M, Bernard I, Bull A, Culshaw F, Drake P, Dunning J, Forbes-Batey D, Griffith F, Hemmings P, Jensen H, MacDonald A, Maydom A, Monaghan P, Osborn D, Owen D Lloyd, Rachwal T, Randles N, Runnalls N, Smith M, Stephenson T, Stuckey D, Trémolet S, Veck N, Walker A, Warham E, Whitaker D, Hague B. (2014) HTechO, Tapping the Potential: A Fresh Vision for UK Water Technology pp32 Swindon: UK Water Research and Innovation Partnership

UK National Ecosystem Assessment (2014) UK National Ecosystem Assessment: Synthesis of Key Findings (Follow-On phase) pp98. UNEP-WCMC: Cambridge; LWEC: Swindon (contributing author and member of funders group)

Nicholson, Emily; Mace, Georgina M.; Armsworth, Paul R.; Atkinson, Giles; Buckle, Simon; Clements, Tom; Ewers, Robert M.; Fa, John E.; Gardner, Toby A.; Gibbons, James; Grenyer, Richard; Metcalfe, Robert; Mourato, Susana; Muuls, Mirabelle; Osborn, Dan; Reuman, Daniel C.; Watson, Charlene; Milner-Gulland, E. J. (2009) Priority research areas for ecosystem services in a changing world. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46, 1139-1144.

Heywood, Elizabeth; Wright, Julian; Wienburg, Claire L.; Black, Helaina I. J.; Long, Sara M.; Osborn, Dan; Spurgeon, David J. (2006) Factors influencing the national distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and polychlorinated biphenyls in British Soils. Environmental Science & Technology, 40, 7629-7635.

Sutherland, WJ; Armstrong-Brown, S; Armsworth, PR; Brereton, T; Brickland, J; Campbell, CD; Chamberlain, DE; Cooke, AI; Dulvy, NK; Dusic, NR; Fitton, M; Freckleton, RP; Godfray, HCJ; Grout, N; Harvey, HJ; Hedley, C; Hopkins, JJ; Kift, NB; Kirby, J; Kunin, WE; Macdonald, DW; Marker, B; Naura, M; Neale, AR; Oliver, T; Osborn, D; Pullin, AS; Shardlow, MEA; Showler, DA; Smith, PL; Smithers, RJ; Solandt, JL; Spencer, J; Spray, CJ; Thomas, CD; Thompson, J; Webb, SE; Yalden, DW; Watkinson, AR. (2006) The identification of 100 ecological questions of high policy relevance in the UK. Journal of Applied Ecology, 43, 617-627.

2008 – 2014 RCUK and NERC Lead for Living With Environmental Change   NERC, United Kingdom
2006 – 2008 Strategic Partnerships Broker   NERC, United Kingdom
2003 – 2006 Director, Sustainable Economies Programme   Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, United Kingdom
2002 – 2003 Head, CEH Monks Wood   Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, United Kingdom
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