The Rt Hon. Lord Flowers of Queen's Gate
Nuffield Foundation Chairman 1987 - 1997
Brian Flowers was a Trustee of the Foundation from 1982 -1997 and Chairman from 1987 -1997. A distinguished theoretical physicist, he was a central figure in UK science and university policy and probably the outstanding scientific administrator of his generation.
His influence on the Foundation was immense. He had an acute sense of the role that a small funder could play by using its independence and flexibility to do things government could not do, a good example being the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, in whose establishment he played an instrumental role.
Born in 1924, Lord Flowers was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, reading physics and electronics. From 1944 he worked on atomic energy in Canada and the UK, notably at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell. In 1950, he moved to the Department of Mathematical Physics at the University of Birmingham and in 1958 he was appointed Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Manchester. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1961 and knighted in 1966.
In 1967, Lord Flowers was seconded to be the Chairman of the Science Research Council, where he strengthened the links with university science and engineering departments. He went on to Chair the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution and in 1973 was appointed Rector of Imperial College London, a post he held until 1985.
Flowers was made a life peer as Lord Flowers of Queen’s Gate in 1979. He was a founder member of the Social Democratic Party and chaired the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology. He became Chairman of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals in 1983–85 and Vice Chancellor of the University of London, 1985–90. In 1994 he returned to the University of Manchester as Chancellor.
He was instrumental in the creation of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) in 1989 and was its Vice-Chair between 1998 and 2005.