Museum appoints new Director of Science

09 June 2011

The Natural History Museum is delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Ian Owens as Director of Science.

Professor Owens will begin his new role in autumn and succeeds Professor Richard Lane, who retired at the end of May.

He joins the Museum from Imperial College London, where he has been Head of the Department of Life Sciences since August 2007. His research has focussed on evolutionary ecology and biodiversity.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Owens says, ‘It’s a rare opportunity to lead the scientific activities of a national institution that plays such an important role in a field so close to my own interests.’

Professor Owens has previously worked at the Institute of Zoology, London and at the University of Queensland, Australia, and has had extensive involvement with learned societies, governmental and non-governmental agencies. 

He is both an honorary research fellow of the Zoological Society of London and sits on the Natural Environment Research Council’s Post-Genomics and Proteomics steering committee, where he recommends how funds should be awarded.

'The Trustees and I are delighted that Professor Ian Owens has decided to move to the Museum to lead our scientific work,’ says Museum Director Dr Michael Dixon. ‘His work is both high calibre and relevant to the Natural History Museum's interests.’

Scientific activities and research

As Director of Science, Professor Owens will oversee the work of over 300 scientists and 150 post graduate students who are based at the Museum. He will set the strategic direction of the Museum’s scientific activities. This includes ensuring that the Museum meets its national and international responsibilities and the wider needs of society.

‘I’m very much looking forward to working with the team at the Natural History Museum to advance our understanding of the natural world and inspire people to tackle the major challenges we face,’ says Professor Owens.

He will continue his own research, examining the ecological impacts of climate change, large scale patterns in biodiversity and extinction, in particular.

Dr Dixon adds, ‘As we seek to further improve the quality and public relevance of our science, Professor Owens' leadership will give our progress greater momentum.’

Scientific collections

Professor Owens will also be responsible for the Museum’s vast scientific collections. Containing over 70 million scientific specimens from all parts of the world, they are an important resource used by scientific researchers worldwide.

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