Dr Frances Saunders CB, FREng, CEng, CPhys, FinstP, MIoD
Following her graduation from Nottingham University, Frances worked as an Electronic Engineer in the motor industry before joining the Civil Service at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE) at Malvern. During the next 10 years she undertook research in the Liquid Crystal Device team at Malvern, from where she moved into a variety of research and technology management positions within the Ministry of Defence (MOD) laboratories and test and evaluation establishments, culminating in her role as Director for the Centre for Defence Analysis.
From January 2000, Frances spent four years in the Office of Science and Technology (OST) at the Department of Trade and Industry, taking the lead for the management of the interface with the seven Research Councils, this included dealing with a wide range of science and engineering policy issues as well as representing OST on their Councils and supporting their collective work under the RCUK banner. Whilst in OST she championed the development of the first UK large experimental facilities road-map and worked with CCLRC and the Wellcome Trust to establish the Diamond light source at Harwell, as well as planning for the 2nd target station for the ISIS neutron source. In addition she worked alongside the FCO in supporting the activities of the British Antarctic Survey and represented the UK on the Council for CERN in Geneva and at the OECD Global Science Forum.
Frances joined the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Dstl, in November 2003 as Technical Director, moving on to become Operations Director in 2005. Frances was appointed as acting Chief Executive of Dstl in May 2006 and her appointment was confirmed in August 2007. Under Frances’ leadership, Dstl delivered defence critical S&T to MOD, particularly in support of Operations in Afghanistan. It also took on additional responsibilities for leading the formulation and delivery of MOD’s £400M non-nuclear research programme and established itself as MOD’s key interface with the wider science and technology community in the UK and overseas. Dstl also continued to strengthen its links with Other Government Departments to underpin delivery of the UK’s National Security Strategy.
Leaving Dstl on early retirement in March 2012, Frances has focused on building a portfolio of activities promoting science, engineering and leadership, in particular for young people. She was appointed President Elect of the Institute of Physics in October 2012, is a Trustee of the Engineering Development Trust and supports a range of activities at the Royal Academy of Engineering, where she was elected as a Fellow in 2011. Frances enjoys cycling, motorcycling, walking and playing the guitar. She has an adventurous streak, having flown a Harrier and abseiled into a frozen crevasse in Antarctica.