Dr Miles Elsden
Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor, Department for Transport
Former Head of Defence and Security, Government Office for Science
Policy Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy
"I have found the Cambridge Science Policy Fellowship Programme an excellent way to strengthen my existing links to academia. My week at Cambridge gave me the opportunity to talk with leading academics from a huge range of subject areas and has already led to possible links to exploit a number of research outputs. The Programme should also allow scientists to understand how central government works and how timely advice can be used as part of the policy making evidence base. I am sure my links with Cambridge will deepen over the remainder of the Fellowship and I hope to benefit from these links in the future months and years." (May 2011)
From May 2012 Miles Elsden will be leaving the Government Office for Science and joining the Department for Transport as Deputy Chief Scientific Advisor.
Miles was the lead official supporting the Governments Chief Scientific Advisor (Sir John Beddington) on Civil Contingencies, Defence and Security; on secondment to GO-Science from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). His work included supporting the Scientific Advisory Group in Emergencies (SAGE) that provides advice to COBR, for example during the Icelandic Volcanic eruptions in 2010 and the Fukushima nuclear incident in 2011.
Miles supported Sir John’s role within the Government’s counter terrorism strategy (CONTEST), the National Risk Assessment, Defence R&D, the Olympics, High Performance Computing and the National Cyber Security Programme and acts as secretariat to the National Security Council (Officials) Science and Technology Committee, which is chaired by Sir John. He also provided advice to the GCSA on science issues of concern to Ministers, the Prime Minister and Cabinet. His role involved working across departments, government agencies, research councils and other external stakeholders to ensure science and technology are used appropriately across the national security domain.
Miles has held academic posts at a range of Universities in the UK and across Europe, and has played several roles in Central Government. He has an MBA from Cranfield University School of Management, a PhD in Fluids Engineering (also from Cranfield), and a BSc in Applied Mathematics from the University of East Anglia.
Miles’s role involved influencing across Whitehall to ensure science advice is incorporated in evidence based policy making (e.g. in the UK CONTEST counter terrorism strategy). As part of his responsibility for managing the Blackett reviews for GCSA, he had a specific interest in how academia can help address key questions in the security space, and how to hold conversations on requirements and capabilities across classification boundaries.
Miles’s interests relate to the following areas of science and technology:
- the latest developments in security and defence sciences (both physical, e.g. detection technologies, and social/behavioural science, e.g. behaviour recognition)
- cyber science (security, quantum technologies, cloud services, web technologies), including cyber security and changes to use and perception of cyberspace
- health technologies (biotech, nanotech, genetics etc.)
- epidemic tracking, modelling and forecasting
- the latest developments in high performance computing
- new energy technologies (grid management, CCS, distributed energy, biofuels etc).
Across these areas, the following themes are of interest:
- risk management, analysis and perception (e.g. as applied to pandemic flu, volcanoes)
- horizon scanning/technology watch in a data-sparse environment
- "technology readiness"
- the application of agent-based modelling and other techniques in modelling, information engineering and applied mathematics
- how science influences policy, including considerations of what counts as evidence, how trust is built and maintained
- delivery models for science and technology development - how research and theory is translated into practice, and how can the valuable ideas be distinguished early on from the red herrings.