Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

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Sue Ion

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Dr Dame Sue Ion, DBE


Sue was a member of the UK Council for Science and Technology from 2004-2011. She was a member of the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council from 1994-2001, a member of Council for EPSRC between 2005 and 2010 and Chaired the Fusion Advisory Board for the Research Councils between 2006 and 2012.

Sue's background is in materials science/metallurgy. She gained a first class honours from Imperial College in 1976 and a PhD in 1979 before joining BNFL. Dr Ion was BNFL's Group Director of Technology 1992-2006. She directly managed BNFL's UK R+D portfolio with an annual budget of £100M, overseeing capital investment programmes in excess of £300M and major rationalisation of the Group's R+D resources.  From 1997 she assumed functional accountability for the whole of the Group's Technology portfolio including Westinghouse, during a period of tremendous change for the Company and the nuclear sector generally.

She was appointed Visiting Professor at Imperial College in 2006 and of London South Bank University in 2011 and has been a member of the Board of Governors at the University of Manchester since 2004. She has held an Honorary Professorship at the University of Central Lancashire since the beginning of 2007.

Dame Sue represents the UK on a number of international review and oversight committees for the nuclear sector including the Euratom Science and Technology Committee, which she Chairs, and the US Department of Energy Nuclear Energy Advisory committee. She was the UK’s representative on the IAEA Standing Advisory Group on Nuclear Energy 2000-2006. Dame Sue was Vice President and Member of Council of the Royal Academy of Engineering between 2002 and 2008 and remains Chairman of its Energy policy subcommittee. She has been involved in energy matters generally since 2004 and chaired the steering group which oversaw the Research Councils’ International Review of Energy Research 2010-2011. She is the Royal Academy of Engineering’s representative on the UK Government’s Energy Research Partnership.  She was awarded an OBE in 2002 for services to the nuclear industry and a DBE in the 2010 New Years Honours for services to Science and Engineering.

Sue was born in Carlisle and moved to Preston as a young girl where she has been based ever since.  She attended Penwortham Girls’ Grammar School in Preston, where she was inspired to focus on science, and Imperial College, London, for both first degree and PhD in Materials Science.  Inspired by a book she won as a school prize she set her ambitions to join the nuclear industry whilst still at school.  She has always had a passion for the North-west of England, particularly for its heritage, culture, history, opportunity and environment and cites one of her most significant achievements as being instrumental in the drive to ensure the NW features significantly in national science and technology policy in the UK. 

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