Professor Gideon Henderson is the new Defra chief scientific adviser, joining the department in October. The geochemist replaces Sir Ian Boyd who is leaving Defra after seven years in the post.

Prof Henderson has been Chair of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford since 2006; senior research fellow at University College, Oxford since 2012; and an adjunct associate research scientist at the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University from 1999. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS).

He also chairs the Royal Society Global Environmental Research Committee and the National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) Association Board and is a member of the Natural Environment Research Council. His present research work includes studying the potential and risks of accelerating natural processes to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

“I warmly welcome Professor Henderson to the role and look forward to working with him and seeing his positive impact on science in the department going forward,” says Defra secretary of state Michael Gove. “It is absolutely crucial that all our policies are based on sound scientific advice to ensure we are addressing the UK’s most pressing environmental issues in a targeted and innovative way, and Defra’s chief scientific adviser is vital to this process.”

Professor Henderson adds: “I am thrilled to be joining Defra at a time when the environment is such a strong priority and there is an ever-growing public level of environmental awareness. The UK faces many challenges – among them responding to climate change and helping meet a net zero emissions goal, as well as ensuring our food’s security and realising the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan.”