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BP boss appointed science body president

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The chief executive of BP is lined up to take over as president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA) when the current president, Francois Cairncross, steps down in September 2006.

The BA was established in 1831 with the idea of making science accessible to the public. "We aim to promote openness about science in society and to engage and inspire people directly with science and technology and their implications" it says on its website.

Part of the organisation's remit is to "facilitate open debate about the social and ethical issues of science", which makes the appointment of the head of a petrol company an interesting choice.

Lord Browne of Madingley says he is looking forward to the challenges of the post:

"Science, engineering and technology are at the heart of human progress. It is critical to enhance the public profile of those already involved in these fields, to attract the very best of the next generation, and to listen to the public's aspirations for what they can do for our world," he said.

The BA said it appointed Lord Browne because of his long history in science and engineering. Professor Patrick Dowling, chair of the BA council noted that Lord Browne's industrial background made him particularly well suited for the role:

"Much of what people see and experience of science and technology is mediated through industrial innovation," he said.

Previous presidents of the BA include Sir David Attenborough and Professor Robert Winston. ®

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