This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies. To find out more, see our Privacy and Cookies policy.
Skip to the content

Share this

Free weekly newswire

Sign up to receive all our latest news direct to your inbox.

Physics on film

100 Second Science Your scientific questions answered simply by specialists in less than 100 seconds.

Watch now

Bright Recruits

At all stages of your career – whether you're an undergraduate, graduate, researcher or industry professional – can help find the job for you.

Find your perfect job

Physics connect

Are you looking for a supplier? Physics Connect lists thousands of scientific companies, businesses, non-profit organizations, institutions and experts worldwide.

Start your search today


Physicist picked as UK environment chief

By Matin Durrani


One of the big advantages of a physics degree is that it opens the door to a wide range of different careers.

In fact, relatively few physicists stay within the confines of academic research, with plenty heading off into IT, finance, industry and teaching.

And, of course, there are lots of other unusual jobs that physicists end up doing, from opera singing to beach-animal sculpture-making, some of which appear in our regular “Once a physicist” column, a selection of which can be read via this link.

Plenty of physicists also end up working in the environmental sector and it was pleasing to see that the new head of the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is a physicist too.

Appointed today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the new NERC boss is Duncan Wingham, who graduated with a BSc in physics from the University of Leeds in 1979 and obtained a PhD from the University of Bath, also in physics, in 1984.

Most of Wingham’s career since then has been at University College London (UCL), where he was chair of space and climate physics and later head of Earth sciences from 2005 to 2010.

Wingham was also founding director of the NERC’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling from 2000 to 2005, which, among other things, discovered the widespread mass loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and its origin in accelerated ocean melting.

He is also currently chairman of the NERC’s science and innovation board and has been lead investigator of the European Space Agency’s CryoSat and CryoSat-2 satellite missions.

Wingham replaces Alan Thorpe, who was also a physicist.

We’ll be publishiing a special issue of Physics World magazine next March on Earth sciences and we’re filming some videos at the American Geophysical Union’s meeting next month – so stay tuned for more Earth-sciences coverage.

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.
View all posts by this author  | View this author's profile

Comments are closed.


  • Comments should be relevant to the article and not be used to promote your own work, products or services.
  • Please keep your comments brief (we recommend a maximum of 250 words).
  • We reserve the right to remove excessively long, inappropriate or offensive entries.

Show/hide formatting guidelines

Tag Description Example Output
<a> Hyperlink <a href="">google</a> google
<abbr> Abbreviation <abbr title="World Health Organisation" >WHO</abbr> WHO
<acronym> Acronym <acronym title="as soon as possible">ASAP</acronym> ASAP
<b> Bold <b>Some text</b> Some text
<blockquote> Quoted from another source <blockquote cite="">IOP</blockquote>
<cite> Cite <cite>Diagram 1</cite> Diagram 1
<del> Deleted text From this line<del datetime="2012-12-17"> this text was deleted</del> From this line this text was deleted
<em> Emphasized text In this line<em> this text was emphasised</em> In this line this text was emphasised
<i> Italic <i>Some text</i> Some text
<q> Quotation WWF goal is to build a future <q cite="">
where people live in harmony with nature and animals</q>
WWF goal is to build a future
where people live in harmony with nature and animals
<strike> Strike text <strike>Some text</strike> Some text
<strong> Stronger emphasis of text <strong>Some text</strong> Some text