UKERC Directors

UKERC comprises over 120 researchers based across the UK at over 30 Universities and Institutions. Scroll down for information on each of our directors, theme leaders and function managers.

Professor John Loughhead FREng FCGI OBE, Executive Director


Before joining UKERC, John was Corporate Vice-President of Technology and Intellectual Property at Alstom's head office in Paris.

He is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College, London, where he also spent five years in computational fluid dynamics research.  His professional career has been predominantly in industrial research and development for the electronics and electrical power industries, including advanced, high power industrial gas turbines, new energy conversion systems, spacecraft thermal management, electrical and materials development for electricity generation and transmission equipment, and electronic control systems.

For several years he has been extensively involved in national and European public sector technology programmes, as a member of various advisory committees and chair of policy reviews in the area of future energy systems.  He is the UK member of the European Energy Research Alliance, a member of the European Advisory Group on Energy, and Advisor to the European Commission Directorate-General Research, Assessor for the Technology Strategy Board, Non-Executive Director of the Ministry of Defence Research & Development Board, and a member of the UK’s Energy Research Partnership. He was also Co-Chair of the Implementation Panel of the EC Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Platform, which produced the future plan for European fuel cell commercialisation, and is currently Co-Chair of the Implementation Committee of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy. He was previously a member of EPSRC Council.

John is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow and Past-President (2008) of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the City & Guilds of London Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts. He is Honorary Professor of Cardiff University, Honorary Fellow of Queen Mary University of London, and a Freeman of the City of London.

Professor Jim Watson, Research Director

Jim Watson is Professor of Energy Policy at SPRU, University of Sussex, and joined UKERC as Research Director in February 2013. He was previously Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex from Dec 2008 to Jan 2013.

Jim trained as an engineer at Imperial College London and has a PhD in science and technology policy from Sussex. He has 20 years’ research experience on a range of energy, climate change and innovation policy issues. His most recent research has focused on the uncertainties facing carbon capture and storage technologies, low carbon innovation in China, community energy in the UK, and the governance implications of sustainable infrastructure systems.

He frequently advises UK government departments and other organisations. He was a lead expert with the UK Foresight project on Sustainable Energy Management and the Built Environment (2007-08), and has been a Specialist Adviser with House of Commons Committees on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2006-09) and Energy and Climate Change (2010-11). Jim has extensive international experience, including over ten years working on energy scenarios and energy innovation policies in China and India. In 2008, he spent three months as a Visiting Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Jim is a council member of the British Institute for Energy Economics, and was its chair in 2011. He is also a member of DECC and Defra’s social science expert panel.

Dr Nick Eyre, UKERC Co-Director, leading the Energy Demand theme

Image As well as leading UKERC's Energy Demand theme, Nick is head of the Lower Carbon Futures team at the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford.

Previously Nick worked at the Energy Saving Trust from 1999 to 2007 as Director of Strategy.

In 2001, Nick was seconded to the Cabinet Office, Performance and Innovation Unit, where he was a co-author of the Government's Review of Energy Policy, leading the work streams on energy efficiency and long term energy scenarios.

He has extensive experience as a research and analyst of energy and environment issues and has written relevant reports on, among others, how the Government's 20% carbon emission reduction target might be delivered and the European Commission's report used as the basis for the UK Government's estimation of the social cost of carbon.

In addition, he is director of the UKERC Meeting Place, which brings together national and international energy experts to discuss and debate energy topics.

Nick also teaches MSc Environmental Change and Management.

Professor Nick Jenkins, UKERC Co-Director, leading the Energy Supply theme

Nick Jenkins bio pic From 1992 to 2008, Nick Jenkins was at the University of Manchester (UMIST).

In March 2008 he moved to Cardiff University where he is now Professor of Renewable Energy. His previous career included 14 years industrial experience, of which 5 years were in developing countries.

His final position in industry was as Projects Director for Wind Energy Group, a manufacturer of large wind turbines. While at University he has developed teaching and research activities in both electrical power engineering and renewable energy.  Nick is a Fellow of the IET, IEEE and Royal Academy of Engineering. He is presently the Shimizu Visiting Professor at Stanford University.

Dr Melanie Austen, UKERC Co-Director, leading the Energy and Environment theme

Dr Melanie Austen is Head of Science at Plymouth Marine Laboratory leading the Sea and Society area of science and its broad spectrum of interdisciplinary research projects from the socio economics of marine ecosystems and their services through to environment and human health, and marine biodiscovery.

Melanie was originally a benthic ecologist specialising in meiofauna research, but in the last ten years she has been developing and leading UK and EU funded collaborative marine research that directly interfaces marine ecology with environmental economics to support policy development and management for sustainable ecosystems.

Dr Melanie Austen has written over 50 peer reviewed research papers and has recentley been appointed as the Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK's Marine Management Organisation.

Professor Paul Ekins, UKERC Co-Director, leading the Energy Systems theme

Paul Ekind bio picture Paul has been Professor of Energy and Environment Policy at the UCL Energy Institute, University College London, since August 2009, having held a similar position at King's College London; and before that been Head of the Environment Group at the Policy Studies Institute and Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Westminster. He was a member of the UK Government’s Sustainable Energy Policy Advisory Board from 2003-2007.

He was also Founder and Associate Director of the sustainable development charity Forum for the Future, and has been a specialist adviser to the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons (1997-2005) and a Member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (2002-2008).  His academic work focuses on the conditions and policies for achieving an environmentally sustainable economy.

Paul has made contributions in many areas relating to sustainable development and environmental policy, including the conceptualisation and measurement of environmental sustainability, the adjustment of the national accounts to take account of environmental impacts, environmental taxes and ecological tax reform, and environment and trade. He also has had extensive experience consulting for business, government and international organisations.

He is the author of numerous papers, book-chapters and articles, and has written or edited six books, the most recent of which is Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: the Prospects for Green Growth (Routledge, London, 2000). In 1994 Paul Ekins received a Global 500 Award 'for outstanding environmental achievement' from the United Nations Environment Programme.

Paul has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of London.

Dr Robert Gross, UKERC Co-Director, leading the Technology and Policy Assessment Theme

Dr Robert Gross is Senior Lecturer in Energy Policy at Imperial College London and the Director of Imperial’s Centre for Energy Policy and Technology, ICEPT. He convenes Imperial’s MSc in Environmental Technology, Energy Policy option.

Robert has contributed to policy development in the UK for many years, for example co-authoring the 2002 Energy Review and 2004 Renewables Innovation Review. In 2008 he acted as Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Committee on the European Union enquiry into the feasibility of the 2020 targets for renewable energy. He has published widely on energy policy, with a focus on support for innovation, renewable energy and energy system change.

Robert has a PhD in Energy and Environment Policy and Technology and an MSc in Environmental Technology, both from Imperial College. 

Dr Jim Halliday, UKERC Co-Director, leading the Research Atlas Function

Image Jim is the Head of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Energy Research Unit based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire.

He has been active in energy research for over 35 years, and has extensive experience of initiating, managing and working on a wide range of collaborative and applied renewable energy research projects (funded by CEC, DTI/DBIS, Carbon Trust, and Research Councils).  He has published over 70 papers.

Jim is a graduate in Environmental Science from the University of East Anglia (UEA), and has a doctorate in Applied Physics from the University of Strathclyde - his thesis title being 'Wind Meteorology and the integration of electricity generated by wind turbines'.

He has been an active member of the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) for many years, and served on its council for 14 years including two terms as Chairman.