Professor Howell sits on the Strategic Programme Advisory Group (SPAG) for the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). NERC is the UK's leading public funder of environmental science. They invest £330 million each year in cutting-edge research, postgraduate training and innovation in universities and research centres. Their scientists study and monitor the physical, chemical and biological processes on which our planet and life itself depends - from pole to pole, from the deep Earth and oceans to the atmosphere and space.
SPAG, recommends prioritised highlight topic and strategic programme area ( investment opportunities to NERC's Science Board. These opportunities are generated from broad and open input of ideas from the NERC community. SPAG responds to ideas provided by the environmental science community to ensure that those strategic investments are appropriate, timely, support excellent research, and tackle environmental challenges faced by business and society.
Members are experts in their area of environmental science or profession and are committed to solving real-world problems through environmental science. As such they are well-placed to recognise emerging ideas and opportunities across all of the NERC remit and to make judgements across a range of scientific, strategic and policy issues.