Students Staff

22 December 2015

Chief Scientific Adviser appointed to bring data-driven approach to public services in Essex

Professor Tom Scotto

Professor Tom Scotto

Leading political scientist Professor Tom Scotto has been appointed as Essex’s first Chief Scientific Adviser, with a brief to bring rigorous data analysis to the heart of public services.

The new post is an innovative collaboration between Essex County Council and the University of Essex which aims to bring research expertise to bear on social and economic policies. The post, believed to be the first in the UK involving a university and a county council, will champion data science in supporting economic development and developing new models for health and social care.

Professor Scotto, who has been a member of the University of Essex’s world-leading Department of Government for nine years, will begin the three-year secondment in April.

Professor Scotto will link the research expertise available at the University, across a range of science and social science departments, with Essex County Council to support innovative work with businesses, government and charitable organisations. The University is ranked in the top 20 universities in the UK for the excellence of its research, and in the top five in politics and economics research.

Professor Scotto said: “My research on public opinion on foreign policy has brought me into high level contact with civil servants in Whitehall.

“I recognise how the expertise of academics at the University can be directed to help solve problems and identify pitfalls, evaluate County Council initiatives, contribute to policy-making and ensure best value for taxpayers. I look forward to working closely with Essex County Council to help make Essex an even better place to live.”

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, said: “We are delighted to welcome the appointment of Professor Tom Scotto. His arrival marks a ground-breaking step in our long-term aim to further strengthen links between the public sector, businesses, charities and the wider community. We are looking forward to the many potential benefits this new role will bring for the Council and the people of Essex.”

Professor Scotto obtained his PhD from Duke University in the USA, and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Toronto in 2004-05. He joined West Virginia University as a Visiting Assistant Professor in 2005 before moving to Essex in 2007.

His post as Chief Scientific Adviser is being funded by the University to build a new era of collaboration between the two organisations in support of the wider community. Professor Scotto will be based in the University’s Institute for Analytics and Data Science, and will continue to contribute to the University’s research.

The University and the Council plan to extend their collaboration further with a number of projects to support student and graduate opportunities, boost economic development and improve public services. A joint project with Suffolk County Council to develop ‘smart’ tools to help improve and target services for vulnerable people – including children, families and the elderly – was recently awarded £2.2 million funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

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