Page last updated at 20:04 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Science body confirms review

By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News

Baroness Greenfield
Baroness Greenfield is credited with modernising the RI

The UK's Royal Institution (RI) has confirmed that it is reviewing the post of its director - currently held by Baroness Susan Greenfield.

It follows a report in The Guardian newspaper that the RI's management advisory committee said the position should be sacrificed to save money.

Baroness Greenfield, a neuroscientist, is considered one the UK's most prominent female scientists.

Her supporters say that as director, she has modernised the RI.

They argue that, until her tenure, some had regarded the institution as stuffy and outdated.

A statement from the RI said: "Discussions about the role of the Director of the Royal Institution are currently taking place between the board of Trustees and the current Director, Baroness Greenfield.

"These discussions are an internal matter that at the present moment are still in train".

As well as initiating a £22m refurbishment of its buildings - the baroness used her own glamorous image to promote not just the RI but science in general.

According to her friend and former University of Oxford colleague, Professor John Stein, the Baroness reached out to those not normally attracted to science:

"She is very charismatic, many of the women I interview for research positions say they find Susan inspirational and say that she's the reason they're in science.

"She's completely committed to the Royal Institutution and she has raised many millions of pounds for the RI. To get rid of her now would be madness."

But other senior scientists found the Baroness's image too flashy for their tastes.

Baroness Greenfield has not won over influential figures in the inner circle of Britain's scientific establishment.

She has been overlooked for membership of the UK's top club for eminent scientists - the Royal Society.



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