Dr Frances Saunders
STFC Council member
After retiring in 2012, Professor Saunders took on a number of activities promoting science, engineering and leadership, especially for young people. She was appointed as a member of the UK Space Agency Steering Board in 2015, was president of the IOP over 2013-15, and is a trustee of the Engineering Development Trust.
As an expert liquid-crystallographer working in the LCD Displays research group at the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment Malvern, Dr Saunders made significant contributions to displays that would become widely used in the instrumentation and signboard industries.
Dr Saunders later moved to the Office of Science and Technology in 2000, where she was responsible for oversight of the seven research councils and their strategy and delivery of much university research funding, dealing with many new policy issues such as devolution. Here she played a crucial role in developing a roadmap for the development of large facilities, working to establish both Diamond and target station 2 at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
In 2003 Saunders joined DSTL, that part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) responsible for research deemed to be too sensitive to privatise with Qinetiq, as technical director, moving on to become operations director in 2005. Her aptitude in this role was rewarded when she became chief executive in 2007.