Economic and Social Research Council
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New appointments to ESRC Council

The Board of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has appointed three new members to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC):

  • Dr Lasana Harris, Associate Professor, Experimental Psychology, University College London
  • Professor Sir Bernard Silverman, statistician, former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Home Office (2010-2017) and now part-time Professor of Modern Slavery Statistics, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Sir Simon Wessely, Professor of Psychological Medicine and Regius Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London and a Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at King’s College and the Maudsley Hospitals

They join the ESRC at an important time for social science research as it has a unique role to play in understanding and seeking to address the challenges and opportunities that are so in need of attention.

ESRC’s Council is comprised of individuals from business and the public sector, as well as representatives from the academic community. They work with Executive Chair Professor Jennifer Rubin to shape the ESRC’s strategy and to support UKRI's overall mission to maintain the UK’s world-leading position in research and innovation. ESRC Council members also provide Professor Rubin, and UKRI more widely, with input, intelligence and feedback from their communities and stakeholder groups.

Professor Jennifer Rubin welcomed the appointments saying: "I’m delighted to welcome these esteemed members to the ESRC Council. Lasana, Simon and Bernard will bring valuable expertise and insights to the Council; and together with our existing members will help ensure the social sciences’ contribution to the UK research and innovation landscape, and to addressing the major issues such as climate change, ageing populations, lagging productivity, and the spread of new technologies.”

The members announced today – totalling 16 people across the research councils, Innovate UK and Research England reflect the diversity of communities that they represent coming from varied backgrounds and experiences including academia, business, policy, third sector and the voluntary sector. Further details on all the appointments can be found on the respective Councils’ websites.

Today’s announcement is one of a number of Council appointments made by UKRI.

Further information

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Notes for Editors

  • All appointments are made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process. However, in accordance with the original Nolan recommendations, there is a requirement for appointees’ political activity (if any declared) to be made public. No political activity has been declared by any appointee.
  • Appointees each receive an annual remuneration of £6,850 for their position on Council.
  • None of the appointees currently holds any ministerial public appointment.
  • The appointments are from January 2020 until 31 March 2023.
  • The ESRC is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policy-makers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective.
  • UK Research and Innovation works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.
  • Biographies of the new appointments are below:
    • Dr Lasana Harris is an Associate Professor in Experimental Psychology at University College London and his research explores the neural correlates of person perception and social decision-making. Dr Harris completed his undergraduate education at Howard University, USA, before finishing graduate school at Princeton University, USA, where he earned his Ph.D. He completed his post-doctorate research at New York University, USA, and held his first appointment as an Assistant Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, USA. He was then an Assistant Professor in Social and Organizational Psychology at Leiden University, the Netherlands before joining UCL in 2015.
    • Professor Sir Bernard Silverman is a statistician whose research has ranged widely across theoretical and practical areas, focusing particularly on the ways that computing power has changed our ability to collect, analyse, understand and utilise data.  He has collaborated in many academic fields, and with industry and government.  After senior appointments at several universities, he was Chief Scientific Adviser to the Home Office 2010-2017.  He is now part-time Professor of Modern Slavery Statistics at Nottingham and has several freelance advisory roles, for example to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, the Office for National Statistics, and the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.
    • Professor Sir Simon Wessely is Professor of Psychological Medicine and Regius Professor of Psychiatry at King’s College London and a Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at King’s College and the Maudsley Hospitals. Simon Wessely studied medicine and history of art at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and finished his medical training at University College Oxford, graduating in 1981. He obtained his medical membership in Newcastle, before moving to London to train in psychiatry at the Maudsley. He has a Master’s and Doctorate in epidemiology. He is a Foundation Senior Investigator of the National Institute for Health Research, past President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, current President of the Royal Society of Medicine and is also chairing the Independent Review into the Mental Health Act.
      His research publications include the boundaries of medicine and psychiatry, unexplained symptoms and syndromes, population reactions to adversity, military health, epidemiology and others.  He founded the King’s Centre for Military Health Research, which is now the main source of information on the health and well-being of the UK Armed Forces past and present and has been Civilian Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry to the British Army since 2001.  He is a trustee of Combat Stress,  the UK's leading charity for veterans' mental health.
  • Images of the new appointees are also available – please contact


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