Prof. Steve Miller
Emeritus Professor of Science Communication / Planetary Science
Department of Science and Technology Studies / Physics and Astronomy
University College London
BSc, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Science Communication and Planetary Science, University College London, PPARC Solar System Science Advisory Panel (2000-08) (chair 2004-08), Science and Society Advisory Panel (1997-2005), RAS Councillor (2011-14), Chair RAS200 Advisory Group (2013-), Member ERC Astronomy Fellowship Panel (2012-), Founder Member and Board, Europlanet European Planetary Science Network /Project (2002-).
Special interests: My research covers areas such as astro-chemistry and astronomical spectroscopy as well as (exo-) planetary sciences, particularly in the study of giant planet atmospheres. I also have a keen and active research interest in science communication and public engagement, which – through my connections with organisations like the international Public Communication of Science and Technology network and the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Education Center in Hawai’i – has an international scope to it.
These are troubling times for the scientific community in general, and astronomy and geophysics, in particular. The Royal Astronomical Society represents some of the most international – indeed, universal – of all sciences. But we live in a period of growing nationalism and scepticism towards international collaboration. We also face challenges to our finances with increasing demands for Open Access publishing and – potentially – to the benefits that our charitable status brings to us. So it is essential that the RAS present an outgoing and confident face to promote the sciences that we hold dear, to embed them as firmly as possible in the affections of our fellow citizens, and to engage with policy-makers whose actions can influence the climate in which we work. And we are facing the perfect opportunity to do so with our fast-approaching bicentenary (in 2020).
Over the past few years, the RAS has become a much more professional and effective organization in terms of the way it serves its Fellows and the way in which it presents itself externally. For our immediate community, one key programme that we have is the RAS Fellowship scheme, which – whilst it can never hope to replace government funding through the Research Councils – demonstrates the Society’s commitment to young astronomers and geophysicists at a time when funding for them is in short supply: we put our money where our mouth is. For our fellow citizens, I believe the RAS200 Outreach and Engagement scheme, which I helped to establish when I was last on RAS Council, shows the Society’s commitment to bringing our sciences to groups and audiences that would not otherwise have any involvement with astronomy or geophysics – hard-to-reach young people, adults who missed out on education the first time around, and people whose caring commitments make it hard to think of anything but day-to-day existence.
If elected onto Council, I would ensure that the RAS continue and expand its representation of, and care for, its own scientific community at all levels. I have previous experience as a three-year Councillor, and I now have even more time to devote to the RAS since my retirement from UCL at the end of last year.