The Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the management of the Museum.
The members of the Board of Trustees and their biographies are listed below.
Chair - Sir Patrick Vallance KCB FRS FMedSci FRCP HonFREng
Sir Patrick Vallance is Chair of The Natural History Museum.
He is a doctor and scientist and was the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) from 2018-2023. He was Chief Scientific Advisor for the climate conference COP26.
Patrick was Global President of Research & Development for GlaxoSmithKline until 2018 and prior to that was Professor of Medicine and led the Division of Medicine at University College London.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, Academy of Medical Sciences and Academy of Engineering and has received awards for his research as well as his scientific leadership.
He had been knighted twice for contributions to science.
Last updated May 2023.
Dame Frances Cairncross DBE FRSE FAcSS
Dame Frances Cairncross is a British economist and respected journalist and brings to the Board a wealth of experience in fundraising from her former role as Rector of Exeter College, Oxford. Her co-opted appointment is for an initial four-year term from 1 April 2016.
Dame Frances Cairncross worked as an economic columnist at the Guardian and then as a senior editor at The Economist for 20 years. She has also written a number of books, including The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution is Changing our Lives and Costing the Earth: The Challenge for Governments, the Opportunities for Business.
She chaired the executive committee of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and from October 2015 to April 2016 has acted as interim Director of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research.
Formerly she was the Chair of the Economic and Social Research Council and President of what was the British Association for the Advancement of Science (now the British Science Association). She became Rector of Exeter College Oxford in 2004 before moving on in 2014 to chair the Court of Heriot-Watt University.
In June 2015 Dame Frances was made a Dame of the British (DBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to education and in recognition of a very successful career as a leading British economist, journalist and academic.
In 2018, Dame Frances was asked by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to undertake a review of the sustainability of high-quality journalism in the UK. Dame Frances is Chair of the Court of Heriot-Watt University.
Dame Frances is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and an Honorary Fellow of St Anne's, St Peter's and Exeter colleges, Oxford.
Last updated July 2018
Robert Noel is the Chief Executive of Land Securities Group PLC (Landsec). Landsec is a listed property company and a constituent of the FTSE100. It owns over 23 million square feet of commercial floor space and has approximately 1,000,000 visitors to its buildings every day.
From 1992 to 2002, he was a Director of Nelson Bakewell Ltd, the property services group. From June 2002 until October 2009, he was Property Director of Great Portland Estates plc.
He joined Landsec in January 2010 as Managing Director of its London business and was subsequently appointed Chief Executive from 1 April 2012.
Robert is also a member of the Boards of both the British Property Federation (BPF) and the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA).
Last updated July 2018
Professor Dame Jane Francis DCMG FRS
Prof Dame Jane Francis DCMG FRS is appointed by the Secretary of State on recommendation of the President of the Royal Society. She is Director of the British Antarctic Survey, a research centre of the UK Natural Environment Research Council. She is involved with international polar organisations, such as the Antarctic Treaty and European Polar Board, and on several advisory boards of national polar programmes.
Professor Francis is a geologist by training. She has undertaken research projects at the universities of Southampton, London, Leeds and Adelaide, using fossils to determine the change from greenhouse to icehouse climates in the polar regions over the past 100 million years. She has undertaken more than 15 scientific expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica in search of fossil forests and climates of the past.
Professor Francis was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (DCMG) in recognition of services to UK polar science and diplomacy. She was also awarded the UK Polar Medal by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Royal Geographical Society’s Patron's Medal and the 2022 Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Award for Planetary Health. Professor Francis is Chancellor of the University of Leeds and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Last updated January 2023
Professor Dame Janet Thornton DBE FRS FMedSci FRSC
Professor Dame Janet Thornton is a world renowned scientific leader whose early career was rooted in structural biology. Professor Dame Janet is widely credited, alongside others, with the establishment of a new scientific field of Bioinformatics. She holds an undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Nottingham and a PhD from the UK National Institute for Medical Research.
After postdoctoral research at Oxford University, Professor Dame Janet moved to a fellowship at Birkbeck College, later taking up a joint professorship with University College London and holding the prestigious Bernal Chair at Birkbeck College. She was Director of EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, Cambridge from 2001 - 2015, was awarded a CBE in 2000 and a DBE for services to bioinformatics in 2012.
Professor Dame Janet is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation as well as the foreign association of the US National Academy of Sciences. Since July 2015 she has been a senior scientist at EMBL-EBI, her group's research being in the area of protein structure, function and evolution and ageing.
Professor Dame Janet combines her research with many advisory roles, including those of Council Member of the European Research Council and Chair of the Board of the Earlham Institute.
Professor Yadvinder Malhi CBE FRS
Yadvinder Malhi is Professor of Ecosystem Science at the University of Oxford, Jackson Senior Research Fellow in Biodiversity and Conservation at Oriel College, Oxford, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests and the Oxford University Biodiversity Network.
His research interests have focused on the impacts of climate change and other types of change on the biosphere, and how protection and restoration of the biosphere can contribute to mitigating and adapting to climate change. Much of his work has focused on the tropics, and he has established a network of intensive study and monitoring of tropical ecosystems spanning across Amazonia, Africa and Asia. His fieldwork has taken him to some of the remotest places on Earth, and to some of the most rapidly changing.
He also has a strong interest in the many possible forms of ecosystem restoration in the UK and Europe, how such restoration can be scaled up, and how it can best contribute to biodiversity recovery and climate change goals. A former President of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Professor Malhi is Chair of Trustees of the Global Biodiversity Foundation and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has authored or co-authored over 400 scientific papers on ecosystems and climate change.
He says, 'I have been enthralled by the Natural History Museum since my first visits as a child, and I am delighted to be now joining it as a Trustee. I believe no entity in the UK better celebrates the magnificence of the natural world.
'I am particularly excited in helping the Museum become a leader and partner in helping address what I see as the great challenges of our time: tackling climate change and the restoration of the natural world, both within the United Kingdom and internationally. The Museum brings a wealth of scientific expertise, practical experience and public reach that has so much potential to make a really significant contribution to tackling these challenges.'
Last updated May 2020
Harris Bokhari OBE
Harris Bokhari OBE is a social entrepreneur, public engagement advisor and chartered accountant. He serves as a board member of Prince's Trust Mosaic Initiative and its first honorary patron, and as an ambassador for the British Asian Trust. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Beacon Award for Philanthropy Advocate, where he now serves as a member of the awards judging panel.
In 2012, in memory of the late father, Naz Bokhari OBE, Harris co-founded the Naz Legacy Foundation, which went on to receive the 2014 Big Society Award from the Prime Minister.
In 2016 he organised the first youth interfaith iftar at Lambeth Palace, bringing together the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chief Rabbi, Mayor of London and over 100 youth leaders from every London borough, representing all faiths and none.
Harris founded Patchwork Foundation in 2010, recognising the vital need for a vehicle through which to promote the political and democratic engagement of under-represented communities. In 2018 he was awarded the Diversity Champion Award by the Cabinet Office as part of its inaugural National Democracy Week. Harris serves as a member of the Mayor of London's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, an Independent Member of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service Committee, and an Independent Member of the Community and Voluntary Service Honours Committee - also sitting on the Diversity and Inclusion Group.
He was awarded an OBE in Her Majesty's 2015 Birthday Honours List for services to young people and interfaith relations; named by the Financial News Extra Mile List as one of 40 people in finance who go further for good causes; named as one of London's most influential figures by the Evening Standard's Progress 1000 List; and awarded Imperial College's inaugural Distinguished Alumni.
He says, 'I am delighted to be joining the Natural History Museum as a trustee. The Museum is a true national treasure, home to one of the world's most important natural history collections, with a crucial mandate to educate on some of our most prescient global issues. I am looking forward to doing all I can to bring the awe-inspiring experience of visiting the Natural History Museum to new audiences. I personally have so many fond memories of roaming the Museum as a child and getting lost in the new worlds it exposed to me. Sadly for many other children of BAME backgrounds this is has not been the case. Therefore, one of my personal priorities will be to ensure that the Museum continues to reach out to diverse audiences, so that we can all equally share in its joy and wonder.'
Last updated May 2020
Dr Sarah Thomas (co-opted)
Dr Sarah Thomas held the positions of Vice President for the Harvard Library and University Librarian of Harvard University from 2013 to 2019. From 2007 to 2013 she was Director of the Bodleian Libraries and the first woman and non-British citizen to hold the position of Bodley's Librarian in the Bodleian's 400- year history.
Her achievements at the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library include: the construction of a new book storage and the transfer of some nine million books, journals, maps, and other archival materials; an £80 million visionary transformation of the New Bodleian into the Weston Library, which opened in 2014; extensive digitisation of collections; and many other significant improvements in library provision for users inside and outside the University.
During her tenure at Harvard University, Dr Thomas leveraged partnerships with major research libraries to expand expedited collection-sharing of 90 million books, reducing the campus footprint and liberating space for other university priorities. She revolutionised collecting and collections storage at Harvard by partnering with three major research libraries (Columbia, New York Public Library, and Princeton) to move beyond shared storage to shared print collections. She developed diverse teams known for creativity, innovation, and positive results and led the successful transition of the newly formed Harvard Library from a segmented organisation into a healthy collaborative with shared strategies and common policies.
She was University Librarian at Cornell University from 1996 until 2007 and has held positions at the Johns Hopkins University, the Research Libraries Group (Stanford, CA), the National Agricultural Library, and the 2 Library of Congress. Dr Thomas is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society.
She says, 'The Natural History Museum is an extraordinary institution with vast collections, deeply knowledgeable researchers and dedicated staff who foster the thrill of discovery and learning. Museums are benefiting from digital innovation that increases access to the millions of objects in their custody, that connects scholars, the public and the collections in the sharing of information that accelerates the creation of vital knowledge - so critical to address the grand challenges of our times. I am energised by the exciting possibilities ahead for the Museum under Doug Gurr's leadership, and I am deeply honoured to be appointed as a Trustee for this venerable institution.'
Last updated December 2020
Mark Read, CEO, WPP
Mark was appointed CEO of WPP in September 2018. Having held multiple leadership positions at WPP since he joined in 1989, Mark has a deep understanding of the industry. As Head of Strategy and then CEO of WPP Digital he was responsible for WPP's first moves into technology. In 2015, he became Global CEO of Wunderman, which he transformed into one of the world's leading creative, data and technology agencies.
Earlier in his career, Mark co-founded internet start-up WebRewards and specialised in media and marketing as a principal at consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton. He was recognised as a HERoes Champion of Women in Business for the fourth consecutive year in 2021 and was named number one in the 2022 EMpower Advocates list which recognises leaders who create diverse and inclusive business environments.
Mark was voted the industry's Most Influential Person of 2019 in Econsultancy’s Top 100 Digital Agencies report and in 2021 was awarded Fellow of the IPA status for outstanding services to the industry in the IPA's New Year's Honours.
In 2022, Mark was appointed to the Museum's Board of Trustees by the UK Prime Minister.
Last updated August 2022
Shahpur is a Partner of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, a leading global law firm. He focuses on domestic and cross-border finance transactions and regularly advises leading global private equity sponsors, their portfolio companies and corporates in connection with a variety of corporate finance transactions.
As part of his various responsibilities at Simpson Thacher, he is co-chair of the London Diversity and Inclusion Committee. He is also a trustee of education service provider based in London, The Complete Works.
Last updated August 2023
Our vision and strategy
We face a planetary emergency. Our future depends on the natural world, but we are not combating our own destructive impact on the planet.
- Our vision is of a future where both people and planet thrive.
- Our mission is to create advocates for the planet.
- Our strategy to 2031 sets out the part the Museum will play as a global, scientific and cultural leader.
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