#20 Becoming Britain’s Chief Scientific Advisor: Solly Zuckerman | WeAreSTS

WeAreSTS - A Podcast from UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS), hosted by Professor Joe Cain.

Did you know that in March 1967, the British government bombed an oil tanker stranded on rocks off Cornwall? Dan Sharpe certainly didn’t when he began to dig into the life and career of the Britain’s first Chief Scientific Adviser, Lord Solly Zuckerman. Zuckerman advised prime minister Harold Wilson during this environmental catastrophe and recommended the bombing.

Join Dan as he traces the life and career of one of the most influential British science advisers of the 20th century from arriving in the United Kingdom as a young adult, to observing primates at ZSL London Zoo, to pioneering a novel approach to science policy advice in government via the second world war and much more. Along the way he hopes to answer the question of how science came into the heart of government and what STS scholars can learn by looking back at the history of science about its use in policy decisions.

Dan thanks Jonathan Burt, Professor Jon Agar and Dr Elliot Honeybun-Arnolda who generously provided their time.

This episode was a project in the STSNewsRoom2022.

Learn more about Zuckerman and Torrey Canyon

These articles provide more depth:


Reporter and researcher


  1. Professor Jon Agar, UCL Professor of Science and Technology Studies
  2. Elliot Honeybun-Arnolda, University of East Anglia
  3. Jonathan Burt, author and historian


Additional voices

  • Andrea Lekare, UCL Class of 2023

Music credits

Podcast information

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