Dr. Frances Saunders took up her position as president of the Institute of Physics [IOP] on 1 October 2013, succeeding Sir Peter Knight. Dr Frances Saunders is the second female president of the IOP, after Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (2008-2010, and 2011 ad interim). She will serve as IOP president until 30 September 2015.
F. Saunders is a research scientist in liquid crystal devices at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. She was Policy officer at the former Office of Science and Technology. From 2007 to 2012, she was the first female chief executive of the British government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory [DSTL]. While in this position, she expressed her concern for the daily work of scientists: “I want to create an environment in which they can do good research, and am looking into whether we have the right facilities and research programmes.” (The Guardian, Tuesday 20 November 2007).
In her debut at the IOP Awards Dinner in London on 15 November 2013, F. Saunders has highlighted the good health of physics in the United Kingdom but expressed at the same time some concern for the need to instil greater diversity in the professions and industries related to physics, a concern that might apply as well to other European countries. Before starting the traditional award ceremony, F. Saunders had also the nice opportunity to comment Professor Peter Higgs’ Nobel Prize and congratulate the many research teams involved so far in the construction of the CERN Large Hadron Collider and the discovery of the Higgs boson. Indeed a great success for United Kingdom physics.