Meet the Champions

The Champions bring together outstanding researchers across atmospheric, medical and social science to develop practical solutions for air quality issues, and then ensure that these interdisciplinary communities are connected to the public and wider policy and business environment to maximise the impact of their research.

The Champions will also look to work wider, working with other national and international stakeholders to facilitate joint-working, identifying areas of common interest and ensuring no duplication.

The Champions are:

Professor Stephen Holgate

Stephen is Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton with a research interest in the mechanisms of asthma and allergy with over 1000 peer reviewed publications achieving an h index of 167. His research has focused on the roles of air pollutants, allergens and viruses in driving airway inflammation and remodelling involving injury to the epithelium and aberrant repair. He was the founder chair of the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, chair of the Expert Panel on Air quality Standards, the Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee, and was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. He is Special Advisor to the RCP on Air Quality and in 2016 and 2020 published two influential RCP and RCPCH reports on the health impacts on air pollution.

He has been President of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology, British Thoracic Society, British Association for Lung Research and the Collegium Internationale Allergologicum. He has been Chair of MRC Population and Systems Medicine Board, the MRC Translational Research Group, Member of MRC and NERC Strategy Boards and Chaired the Main Panel A (Health and Life Sciences) of the UK Research Excellence Framework 2014. He is currently a member of NERC Council.

His contributions have been recognised by a number of awards including The King Faisal International Prize in Medicine and the J Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine, Lifetime Achievement Award of the World Allery Organisation and Honorary Degrees from the University of Ferrara Italy, Krakow Poland, Naples Frederico II, Italy and Exeter, UK. He was a Founder Member of the Academy of Medical Sciences, served on its Council and is Founder Chair of the Clinical and Veterinary Section of the Academia Europaea. In 2011, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year Honours for Services to Clinical Science.

Professor Martin Williams

Professor Martin Williams

It is with great sadness that we share news of the death of Professor Martin Williams. Martin was Head of the Science Policy group, Environmental Research Group at Imperial College London and former Head of the Air Quality programme at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Martin, an atmospheric scientist, who published on a range of air quality issues, including health effects, and spent a large part of his career formulating, promoting and co-ordinating research programmes and policy in air pollution.

At various times he was a member of COMEAP, EPAQS and various government advisory groups on air quality. He was a member of Defra’s Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG). He chaired Defra’s Air Quality Modelling Steering Group and co-chaired the group revising the WHO Air Quality Guidelines for public health as well as being a member of the WHO Reviews of the Air Pollution and Health Literature. Martin chaired the Programme Expert Group on the Energy and Environment part of the National Measurement System within BEIS. He had been a former chair of the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) Steering Body and the UNECE Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution. He was part of the project, one of the first in Europe, to produce evidence on real-world emissions of NOx from diesel vehicles.

Earlier in his career, he made significant contributions to UK air quality research. He established the first systematic programme to calculate UK national emission inventories; led the first research to produce on-road real-world vehicle emissions (the only group in the world doing this at the time); undertook the first identification of stratospheric O3 intrusions to ground level in the UK; made the first measurements of boundary layer height in London and the rural south east; and built the first model to forecast next day UK O3 concentrations. Martin has recently published on modelling the effects of climate policies on air quality and health in the UK in a project funded by the NIHR and the link between climate and air quality policies and their effects on air quality and health remain an important element of his research interests.

Professor Martin Williams was one of the foremost authorities on air pollution science and its incorporation into policy – not only in the UK, but also more widely in Europe. We would like to share a tribute from Professor Frank Kelly, Imperial College London Mr Air Quality.”

Dr Jenny Baverstock

Dr Jenny Baverstock

Jenny is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Environment and Life Sciences at the University of Southampton. With a background in clinical trials research, primary care, public health and biological systems, Jenny has considerable experience in interdisciplinary research (coordinated the Southampton Cleaner Air Partnership). She is a biochemist by training, her career has spanned bench science to research management and leadership in the Research Council, University and the NHS (NIHR research network including industry) sectors.

Over this time, she has project managed a significant interdisciplinary research portfolio (including clinical trial management) and been engaged with connecting science to policy, and developing and operationalising policy for science opportunities. She has supported key strategic science policy areas: connecting stakeholders and academic partners to work on significant research themes, e.g. food and health and the Southampton Cleaner Air Forum (university researchers) and Partnership (stakeholders), which she established collaboratively from 2018. The Forum encompasses a range of research areas (social science, policymaking, environmental, engineering and clinical/biomedical research etc.).

Jenny has worked as both a co-Investigator and coordinator for research bids and awards, which have involved networking and building links with many stakeholders from a range of research sectors as well as some stakeholder organisations that were new to research. This has involved engagement and supporting the development of a process to enable research questions from these organisations to become research projects to help in delivering plans and strategies in their respective organisations. She has coordinated numerous business cases for the NIHR Clinical Research Networks in securing additional funding for staff and projects to increase the capacity for research and engagement with stakeholders for successful clinical trials. She has engaged in university bidding cycles for graduate training schemes to enhance the skill sets for future leaders in health. Whilst working at the MRC, Jenny provided the lead support for overseas units (LMIC-based) and leading the implementation and staffing of the new MRC Prion Unit (London) and assisting MRC peer review in the financial and staff QQR of MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, as well as many other MRC Centres and Units nationally. Jenny has a clear record of accomplishment in developing new groups/networks and/or units to tackle grand challenges/major strategic areas, experience of which will be invaluable in helping the Clean Air Champions deliver their plan.