Board of trustees

Indi Seehra (Chairman) 

Indi Seehra is Director of Human Resources at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  Until May 2014, he headed up Human Resources at the University of Cambridge. 

He is an Independent Director for RESAVER, a multi-employer, multi-currency and multi-country Pension Scheme for organisations who are engaged in Research activity across Europe.

Indi held a number of significant private and public sector appointments including HR Director of the Crown Prosecution Service and subsequently the Serious Organised Crime Agency (now NCA).  He is a non-Executive Director with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (in England) and has remained involved with respective EU Task Groups looking to overcome the barriers to mobility for Researchers.  He is a regular speaker on Leadership and Organisational Behaviour.


Drs Astrid Wissenburg

Drs. Astrid Wissenburg joined the University of Exeter in January 2016 as its new Director of Research. Her responsibilities include the delivery of the University Research and Impact Strategy 2015-2020, including major initiatives such as the establishment of an Institute of Advanced Studies; the preparations for the next REF; and associated policy areas such as research integrity, research infrastructure and open access. The Research Services Directorate provides support to all academics in the university in bidding ad delivering research projects. Astrid is also responsible for the Doctoral College, and for the DCV Research and Impact support function.

Astrid has previously held a variety of posts, all with an underlying commitment to making knowledge and research accessible and usable, as widely as possible. She currently is a trustee of the Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC), the UK's leading expert in the field of career development for postgraduate researchers and is a past trustee of MentorUK - a UK-wide charity committed to promoting evidence-based prevention to protect children and young people from alcohol and drugs misuse. She was, until 2016, a member of the UUK Open Access Group.

Astrid's previous post was as Director Research, Scholarship and Quality at the Open University (OU) with responsibility for the strategic development of research, enterprise and scholarship; and the quality assurance and enhancement of the University's taught programmes. Astrid joined the OU from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), where she was Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Partnerships and Communications. She was responsible for the strategic direction of the ESRC’s knowledge exchange, evaluation and impact initiatives; relationships with partners (business, government, third sector); external communications; and information and knowledge management. Astrid also led for Research Councils UK on its economic and societal impact strategy, and on open access to research information.

Prior to her appointment at ESRC, Astrid worked at King's College London where she held posts as Assistant Director Information Resources, managed a JISC research project on models for hybrid libraries, and was part of the Arts and Humanities Data Service. Her early career included appointments at Glasgow University and Leiden University (The Netherlands) in the fields of computer-based learning and applied information management for historical research.

Astrid holds a postgraduate degree in contemporary international history from the University of Nijmegen; a postgraduate certificate in information technology from the University of Leiden; and a Master of Public Administration from Warwick Business School. She is currently, and at a leisurely pace, undertaking some postgraduate modules in systems theory at the Open University.


Professor David Gani, BSc DPhil CChem FRSC FRSE

Recently embarking in new ventures in the music business as a song writer, David has semi-retired from work as a consultant in Research and Higher Education. Previously serving as a Deputy Principal at Strathclyde University, Professor Gani's responsibilities  included providing corporate academic leadership in shaping and implementing the University's strategies in external engagement, internationalisation and advancement. He played a leading role in Researcher Development across the University and in Scotland and more specifically in Doctoral Education at UK and European Levels.

He has worked with key external stakeholders including funding councils, the Scottish and UK governments, businesses, the voluntary sector and other universities and cultivated relationships with partners nationally and internationally, and particularly within the EU, the Gulf States, USA, Africa, Korea, Singapore and Malaysia. He represented the University on the Board of the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU) and was particularly active in engaging with the EU Commissions and with MEPs on "Innovation Union", "Horizon 2020" and the "Modernisation Agenda".

Whilst at Strathclyde David served as Chief Executive and Science Director for Glasgow City of Science,  the Executive Chairman of the Research Pool ScotCHEM and as Chair of the EUA Council for Doctoral Education.

Prior to joining Strathclyde in December 2009 David worked for almost eight years as director of research, innovation and global engagement at the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). Whilst there, he led the development of research pools, driving forward the SFC's investment in research alliances to create a competitive edge for Scotland in world-leading research. He also pioneered the Council's innovative approach to the funding of knowledge exchange between universities, business and the public sector.

Prior to joining the Council, he held senior academic posts in chemistry at the universities of Southampton, St Andrews and Birmingham. As a result of his research in organic and medicinal chemistry he received many awards becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1993.

David is a keen guitar player  who also enjoys cooking. He has grown-up daughters a son and four grand children.


Professor John Wood

Professor John Wood CBE, FREng is the chair of the ATTRACT advisory board based at CERN in Geneva and including five other European laboratories seeking to develop future technologies. He is a visiting professor of materials at Imperial College London, University College London, Brunel University London and Liverpool Hope University. He has held several academic posts at the Open University, Nottingham University and Imperial College. From 2001‐2007 he was appointed chief executive of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils in the UK.  During this period he was a visiting professor at Oxford and a fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. His last full time post was as Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

He is a non‐executive director of Bio‐Nano Consulting. He was a founder member of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures and became chair in 2004 where he was responsible for producing the first European Roadmap.  He became the first chair of the European Research Area Board in 2008-11.  He was responsible for the international negotiations setting up the Global Research Data Alliance and was appointed one of the two co-chairs from the start. He represents the Alliance on the Open Science Policy Platform.

He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1999 and made a Commander of the British Empire in 2007 for "services to science,"  In 2010 he was made an "Officer of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany."

He remains an adviser to several governments and the European Commission on international science policy and research infrastructures. He also is advising several UK universities on the future of science and engineering education. He is a member of Brunel University's council


Dr Mary Phillips

Mary Phillips read Physiology at UCL and undertook her doctoral studies in Physiology at Oxford University, where she continued as an academic teacher and researcher until joining the Wellcome Trust in 1989. At the Trust she managed a number of funding Panels, including latterly the International Biomedical Programme. In addition, from 1994 until 2004 she was a Fellow and pre-clinical tutor at Merton College Oxford. In 2004 she joined UCL as Director of Research Planning for Biomedicine and in 2007 she became UCL's first Director of Research Planning. From 2009 to 2011 she was also seconded (on a part-time basis) to the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) to establish and lead their Global Chronic Disease Programme.  Mary retired in October 2011 but from retirement till June 2015 she consulted part-time as Senior Academic Adviser, for a small US-based company, Academic Analytics, which provides universities with metrics to assess research excellence. Mary was also a Trustee of the Daphne Jackson Trust, which enables scientists, mostly women, to return to research after a career break, from 2011 till April 2016.

Mary is married to Professor Graham Richards, retired as Chairman of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. Mary has two daughters and a son and six grand-children as well as two step sons and four step grand-children.

Her main hobby is art - watercolour, life drawing and her particular enthusiasm, print-making


Dr William Duncan

William was Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) - Scotland's national Academy of Sciences and Letters - from 1985 until 2017.
During this time he oversaw a considerable expansion of its activities, reach and impact. New activities developed included:

  • policy advice, with the RSE widely recognised as an impartial, authoritative commentator on a wide range Scottish, UK and European issues.Dr William Duncan
  • international relations, especially with other leading national academies in Europe and Asia
  • academic/ business links, through national strategies to enhance commercialisation and knowledge transfer, including creation of highly successful Enterprise Fellowship awards
  • Parliamentary relations, with both Scottish and UK Parliaments.
  • Post-doctoral research awards, funded by public, charitable and private sector sources.
  • buying and extensive refurbishment of RSE premises in central Edinburgh
  • diversification of the RSE funding and successful fund raising campaigns.

William is a Trustee of the Glasgow Science Centre and Chairs the Audit Committee. As the founder Secretary of the Scottish Science Trust, he played a key role in securing the funding from the Millennium Commission and EU to enable a network of science centres to be created in Scotland.
Since 2017 he has been Visiting Professor at the International Public Policy Institute at the University of Strathclyde. 

He also Chairs the George Street Association in Edinburgh.

Prior to his appointment at the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1985, he worked in the Policy Planning Department of Lothian Regional Council (from 1978- 1985) and in the Treasurer's Department of the Greater London Council (1975-1978).

He is a Chartered member of the Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and has BSc and PhD degrees in science from Edinburgh University.

His leisure interests are organ music (especially 20th century and contemporary), opera and overseas travel.

May 2018