RSPB seeks top boffin
David Gibbons

The RSPB is looking for a new Director of Science to replace Dr David Gibbons who has held the role since 1998. David is stepping down at the end of August after a distinguished scientific career as a PhD student at Cambridge (Moorhen helping behaviour), the BTO (see Gibbons et al. 1993, the Atlas before last) and then at the RSPB, first (as I recall) as Head of Monitoring and then Head of Conservation Science. I recruited him to the RSPB and we worked together for many years so I’m biased, but few will demur from the view that he has done a great job.

There has been a bit of job title inflation in the time since I joined the RSPB in 1986. My head of department was then the Head of Research which turned into Head of Conservation Science (which is what I eventually became, and I quite liked the shortening of the title to Head ConScience) and is now the Director of Science.

Perhaps of more interest to potential candidates is the fact that you might well get paid as much for leading the RSPB’s science as for leading the whole of the BTO – the salaries are fairly comparable. Does that strike you as odd? Well the BTO annual budget is around £6m whereas the RSPB Science probably amounts to c£3m these days (that’s a bit of a guess from me) but all that stuff like paying the electricity bill, replacing the carpet and making sure the computers work some of the time is held by other bits of the RSPB so RSPB Science is about as big as the BTO in totality in financial terms. And the RSPB Director of Science has the joy of being part of a £100+m organisation with all the advantages and disadvantages that represents.

The RSPB job is a great job – providing the science that really does guide RSPB practice and policy and has a pretty direct impact on government policy across the UK including climate change and agriculture as well as practical work on the ground on 200+ nature reserves and internationally.

Former holders of this role have been:

  • David Gibbons, 1998-2020
  • Mark Avery, 1992-1998
  • Colin Bibby, 1986-1991
  • James Cadbury, 1969????-1986
  • Peter Olney????

So, again, we may be teetering on the brink of the first female holder of this role…


3 Replies to “RSPB seeks top boffin”

  1. A bird for the birds – good idea
    I’m sure this will get a lot of dislikes , I’m blame it on me not getting out enough.

  2. Are we allowed to make suggestions? After hearing her on Radio 4 last week, I’d like to see Debbie Pain in the role.

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