Dr Gemma Harper

Chief Social Scientist and Deputy Director for Marine at Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

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Chief Social Scientist and Deputy Director for Marine, Defra
Policy Fellow Alum, Centre for Science and Policy

Dr Gemma Harper is Deputy Director for Marine Policy and Evidence, the UK Commissioner to the International Whaling Commission and Chief Social Scientist in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). She is responsible for delivering the UK Government’s vision of ‘clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas’. She is also responsible for ensuring social science – which aims to put people at the heart of Defra’s policy making – is of high quality and underpins strategy, policy and delivery.

Gemma studied social psychology at London School of Economics and Political Science. During her post-doctoral research in the Department of Agricultural and Food Economics, University of Reading, she contributed to a range of national and international research projects. After eight years in criminal justice research at the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice, Gemma joined Defra in 2010. At Defra she led Strategic Evidence and Analysis, followed by the Strategy Unit, Animal and Plant Health Evidence and Analysis, and Plants, Bees and Seeds policy and evidence.

Gemma is a member of the Government Social Research Leadership Board, the Cross Government Evaluation Group, the Social Research Association Strategy Group and the Public Policy Committee of the British Academy. Gemma leads the secretariat for Defra’s Social Science Expert Group (SSEG) and co-authored with SSEG members an article on Judging research quality to support evidence-informed environmental policy.

  • 11 November 2014, 3pm

    The GCSA at 50: reflections on the past, present and future of scientific advice

    To mark the GCSA's 50th birthday, the Royal Society, GO-Science, SPRU, and the Centre for Science and Policy, are working in partnership to host a special event on the past, present and future of scientific advice.

  • 15 January 2013, 5pm

    Experts, publics and open policy

    The third in a series of seminars looking at ways in which government can make more effective use of scientists and scientific advice in the context of Civil Service reform and a move towards open policy making.

  • In news articles

    Easter Term 2014 Policy Fellows Elected

    CSaP announces the successful applicants to the Policy Fellowship and Junior Policy Fellowship for Easter Term (April-June) 2014.