The Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) has appointed NCAS air quality expert Dr Sarah Moller as one of six senior academic Fellows to focus on some of the UK’s most pressing environmental issues to inform and shape key future policy decisions.

The new Systems Research Programme will look at five key areas: rural land use, food, air quality, marine, and resources and waste. Sarah Moller, the NCAS Air Pollution Theme Leader based at the University of York, is leading the work on air pollution.

Each of the five areas will be covered by a senior academic Fellow, and together they will identify how a policy change in one area might affect another, and make sure the connections between environmental issues are properly considered.

sarah moller fellow 400px

NCAS’ Dr Sarah Moller explains:

"Air pollution is a complex issue and one with significant impacts 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 6 years focusing on building partnerships and developing mechanisms for the co-design of research and policy.

This programme is a really exciting opportunity to extend that, working 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, for example energy, farming, or transport, exert considerable influence on our ability to deliver improvements."

The Programme will be led by Professor Ian Boyd, Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser, and will be delivered in close partnership with the UK research community.

"The Systems Research Programme breaks new ground by taking a systems approach to understanding the key policy questions across the Defra group to deliver innovative, evidence-based solutions for the future.

This is a very busy and exciting time for policy making in Defra. This programme gives us the chance to concentrate on the UK’s priority environmental issues and use the best possible science to inform our solutions."