Prof Mark Symes appointed as ARIA Programme Director

Professor Mark Symes of the School of Chemistry has been announced as one of the founding Programme Directors of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency, ARIA.

Professor Mark Symes of the School of Chemistry has been announced as one of the founding Programme Directors of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency , ARIA.

ARIA is a non-departmental public body, sponsored by the UK Government’s Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

An R&D funding agency backed by £800m over the next four years, ARIA aims to unlock scientific and technological breakthroughs to benefit everyone in the UK.

Prof Mark Symes Professor Symes is one of ARIA’s eight founding Programme Directors, each of whom are scientists and engineers with diverse fields of expertise and a range of experience across industry, academia and government. The directors were recruited after a global, open call for candidates which received more than 400 applications.

Each programme director will set out to develop a vision of what the future will look like through a four-stage process. They will question the status quo, bound an opportunity space worth exploring, formulate a core hypothesis to underpin a programme, and launch a programme for solicitation from the wider research and development community.

Professor Symes’ academic research interests focus on energy conversion and the production of green fuels. He is also a co-founder of Clyde Hydrogen Systems Ltd, a spin-out in the green hydrogen space.

Some of the questions Professor Symes will seek to investigate as a Programme Director are:
  • What are the options for actively cooling the Earth, and how can we improve our monitor-measure-predict feedback loops to identify the most responsible choices?
  • How could we remove 1000 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050, and what would we do with it all?
  • Can we develop the capability to control the weather and climate on a regional and global basis, to mitigate or obviate hurricanes, droughts, floods and heatwaves?
  • What new technology capabilities or communities would be most valuable to support responsible governance and deployment of climate intervention technologies?

Professor Symes said: "As an electrochemist, I’ve spent the last 15 years developing sustainable fuels and chemical processes in the drive towards net zero. Now, as an ARIA Programme Director I want to explore technologies for actively reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and for climate intervention at the regional and global scale.

"Limiting further increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by achieving net zero is necessary but insufficient to prevent the worst consequences of climate change. The full effects of delaying action will be felt by our children and grandchildren. We need to know what our options are for responsible climate intervention technologies, and if, where and when we should deploy them. If we are serious about combating climate change, we need to evaluate these technologies now."