News Release

Aston University bioenergy expert appointed to Department for Transport Science Advisory Council

Business Announcement

Aston University

Professor Patricia Thornley

image: Professor Patricia Thornley view more 

Credit: Aston University

  • Professor Thornley is director of the Energy and Bioproducts Institute at Aston University and the national Supergen Bioenergy Hub
  • She is an international leader in assessing the sustainability of energy systems
  • The Science Advisory Council provides independent, strategic advice and challenge to the Department for Transport.

Bioenergy expert and director of the Energy and Bioproducts Institute at Aston University, Professor Patricia Thornley, has been appointed to the science advisory council of the Department for Transport (DfT).

Professor Thornley is an international leader in assessing the sustainability of energy systems. Her work contributes to the understanding of how to best use low-carbon technologies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.

Her work is particularly influential in advising government on energy policy and supporting engineering deployment of low-carbon energy solutions in the UK and worldwide.

The Science Advisory Council is a council of external experts who provide independent, strategic advice and challenge to the DfT on science and technology – speaking directly to decision-makers on some of the most important issues of the day that are relevant to the department’s policy and operations.

Speaking on her appointment, Professor Thornley said: “I am delighted to take up this role and further develop the links between Aston University and the Department for Transport. We already engage closely with departments across Whitehall to ensure policy is sustainable and fit for purpose in a net zero world. I’m excited to work with such esteemed colleagues on the DfT Science Advisory Council and to deepen the important relationship between policy and research.”

The council examines how science and innovation can support policy in specific areas, working with officials to frame the policy issue and consulting additional subject-specific experts to bring new thinking and evidence into DfT.

As a member of the Science Advisory Council Professor Thornley will support the Chief Scientific Adviser in ensuring departmental activity is informed by the best external expertise and evidence, advising and challenging the nature and quality of the DfT’s use of science and technology and identifying relevant emerging issues and trends.

Professor Thornley has been recruited alongside four other new members and a new Chair, joining six continuing members.

Department for Transport Chief Scientific Adviser, Sarah Sharples, said: “I’m pleased to welcome the new members appointed to the Science Advisory Council. They bring significant additional expertise in key areas that will support DfT’s effective use of science and engineering. I look forward to working with them.”

Professor Thornley’s appointment is for a four-year term ending in 2025.


Notes to Editors


About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Saskia Hansen is the interim Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.


Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world.


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