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Michel J. Kaiser

Chief Scientist, Heriot-Watt University

I was appointed chief scientist in June 2019, taking over from Professor John Underhill, who held the inaugural role since 2017. The role of chief scientist is one of the most senior at Heriot-Watt University. The two-year fixed position is key to representing the University in high-level dialogue with government, policy makers and funders – and key to making change happen.

Over the next two years, as a leading expert in fisheries conservation, I will be responsible for championing the University’s expertise in the blue economy as well as leading initiatives that further enhance and amplify our reputation for research excellence. The need to develop the blue economy in a way that is sustainable and that recognises the underpinning value of natural resources is of vital importance to economic growth and livelihoods around the world. I will expand his current portfolio of work with influential stakeholders including at government level to inform on policy development and delivery.

As a professor in fisheries conservation, I am based at The Lyell Centre in Heriot-Watt's Edinburgh campus. Prior to this position, I was the science and standards standards director at the Marine Stewardship Council and a professor of marine conservation ecology at Bangor University for 20 years.

A key part of my role will be to highlight the opportunities presented but also to balance these against the need to preserve the fragile ecosystems within our oceans.


  • –present
    Chief Scientist, Heriot-Watt University


Elected Member of Academia Europaea