Ian L. Boyd

Professor Ian Lamont Boyd FSB FRSE (born 9 February 1957) is a Scottish zoologist and the Chief Scientific Adviser at Defra, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs[1][2]

Early life

He is the son of Dr John Morton Boyd CBE. He attended the independent George Heriot's School in Edinburgh. He went to St John's College, Cambridge until 1982. He was a Churchill Fellow in 1980.


Professor Ian Boyd’s career has evolved from Physiological ecologist with the Natural Environment Research Council Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, to a Science Programme Director with the British Antarctic Survey, Director at the Natural Environment Research Council’s Sea Mammal Research Unit, Chief Scientist to the Behavioural Response Study for the US-Navy, Director for the Scottish Oceans Institute and acting Director and Chairman with the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland. He has also been the Chief Executive or board member of several companies for the University of St Andrews. He is currently Professor in Biology at the University of St Andrews and Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

In parallel to his formal positions he has chaired, co-chaired or directed international scientific assessments; his activities focusing upon the management of human impacts on the marine environment.

Ian was responsible for establishing the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews and the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland, one of Scotland’s cross-institutional research pools including eight of Scotland’s universities. He established several operating companies for the University of St Andrews and these now operate globally with subsidiaries in the United States, Canada and Hong Kong. As Director of the NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit he was responsible for advising Defra and the Scottish Government about policy related to marine mammals. He is also a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council and is on the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science (journal).

Professor Boyd has received numerous honours and awards recognising his contributions to science, including the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the W. S. Bruce Medal (awarded once every 5 years) for his research in Polar Science and has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s National Academy, and is a Fellow of the Society of Biology.[3]


He position at Defra was announced on 24 April 2012.[4] He took up his post on 1 September 2012 and will stay for three years.

Since 2011 every government department has their own Chief Scientific Adviser.


In July 2013, Boyd opined that "the scientific community needs to [be] avoiding suggesting that policies are either right or wrong; and being willing to make the voice of science heard by engaging with the mechanisms already available through science advisory committees, by working with embedded advisers (such as myself), and by being the voice of reason, rather than dissent, in the public arena." The sentiment is seen as controversial by such people as Naomi Klein[5] and George Monbiot, the latter of which described the opinion as "Shut up, speak through me, don't dissent – or your behaviour will ensure that science becomes irrelevant."[6][7]

In October 2013, Professor Boyd rebutted these opinions by Naomi Klein and George Monbiot.[8] Boyd stated that the point he was making in July was that “it is not their (scientists) job to make politicians' decisions for them – when scientists start providing opinions about whether policies are right or wrong they risk becoming politicised. A politicised scientist cannot also be an independent scientist.”

Personal life

He married in 1982 and has one son and two daughters.


Video clips

Government offices
Preceded by
Chief Scientific Adviser for DEFRA
September 2012
Succeeded by
Business positions
Preceded by
Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Zoology
2006 2008
Succeeded by
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