NEWS23 February 2023

Stian Westlake to become next ESRC executive chair

News People Public Sector UK

UK – The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has named Stian Westlake, chief executive at the Royal Statistical Society (RSS), as its next executive chair.

Stian Westlake

Westlake (pictured) is expected to take up the ESRC role in late spring, and succeeds Professor Alison Park, who has led the organisation on an interim basis.

Before joining the RSS, Westlake held the role of executive director of policy and research at Nesta and has research interests including the economics and politics of innovation, research and technology.

In addition, Westlake has also been involved in numerous projects centred around data and evidence, RSS’s Covid-19 Task Force, the Alliance for Useful Evidence, the Innovation Growth Lab and the Innovation Index.

As executive chair, Westlake will be responsible for helping social science directly address key societal issues, such as the cost-of-living crisis and climate change.

The appointment was confirmed by Michelle Donelan, the secretary of state for science, innovation and technology.

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, chief executive at ESRC parent organisations UK Research and Innovation, said: “In a rapidly changing world, the role of economic and social science has never been more important in helping us seize the opportunities and navigate the challenges we face.

Stian will bring a wealth of experience to the role, combined with an impressive track record of ensuring high-quality social and data science is placed at the heart of decision making.”

Westlake added: “I firmly believe that rigorous, engaged social science holds the answer to our most pressing challenges – and can change the world for the better.

“I look forward to working with the research community, with users of research, and with the public to help social science thrive and make its benefits felt widely.”