The Faraday Institution, the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage science and technology, which is based at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, has appointed a new chief executive.
Professor Pam Thomas is currently Pro Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Warwick. Her appointment is effective immediately.
Peter B. Littlewood, Executive Chair of the Faraday Institution’s Board of Trustees, said: “We stand at a unique moment in the UK’s quest towards Net Zero and to place energy storage technologies centre stage to deliver a green recovery and to reinvent sectors from road transport and aero to power generation and distribution.”
“In Pam Thomas we have found a passionate leader and excellent scientist who knows first-hand what it takes to translate research into commercial value. Pam is the perfect fit to accelerate the Faraday Institution toward meaningful delivery for the UK.”
Business and Industry Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “From electric vehicles to energy storage, battery technologies hold the key to our net zero-emissions future. To make these technologies fit for the market, it’s crucial we continue to attract and train top academics, and focus research on meeting the needs of industry. Pam Thomas is a leading academic in her field and has a strong background in running scientific research programmes. I look forward to working with her as she takes her place as a leader in the UK’s drive for greener transport.”
Tony Harper, Director of the Faraday Battery Challenge, which is helping the government invest a total of £246 million to support the development of new battery technologies, added: “Pam Thomas is a tremendous appointment to lead the next stage of the Faraday Institution. Her leadership experience will help catalyse the Faraday Institution research community and its industrial partners to deliver much needed breakthroughs in battery technologies. Huge economic opportunities lie ahead for the UK to take advantage of this global revolution in energy storage and batteries.”
The Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage research, analysis and skills development. It drives early stage, industry-inspired research with a clear mission: make significant scientific breakthroughs in battery research in the global race to electrification.
Since its inception in 2017, the organisation has launched significant research programmes that have already delivered a number of scientific and industrial outputs, along with raising the profile of UK battery research through international partnerships. Its research model is different to many other groups around the world. It funds highly collaborative projects, integrating the efforts of its 22 partner universities, from St Andrews to Southampton, to focus efforts on tackling specific industry challenges that, should they be overcome, would be game changers for the automotive and other sectors.
While its initial focus was directed towards automotive applications the Faraday Institution is actively exploring applications for other sectors such as aerospace and grid storage, including to promote energy access to enable the clean energy transition in emerging economies.
Pam Thomas joins the Faraday Institution from the University of Warwick, where she holds the role of Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and has responsibility for academic leadership of the research portfolio and strategy across the whole of the university. From 2011-2015 she was Warwick’s Chair of the Faculty of Science, providing over-arching leadership of its nine departments, from life sciences to engineering and including Warwick Manufacturing Group. During this she led multiple cross-department initiatives including on widening participation and employability.
Earlier in her career Prof Thomas served as the Director of the Science City Research Alliance (SCRA), a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick, representing a £58 million investment, which provided world-leading research and knowledge support across three major platforms: advanced materials, energy futures and translational medicine. From 2001 she founded and led a spin out company incorporating novel linear optical material technology with a view to incorporating it into a medical device.
Prof Thomas is a condensed matter physicist and leads the Ferroelectrics & Crystallography Group in the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick, which she will continue to direct in her personal research time. She is an authority on the structure and related properties of ferroelectric, piezoelectric and nonlinear optical crystals, ceramics and thin films. Prof Thomas holds a BA (Hons) and DPhil from the University of Oxford where she also undertook post-doctoral research at the Clarendon Laboratory.
Since February 2018 Pam served as a member of the board of trustees for the Faraday Institution, a role from which she has stepped down.