Graduate Profile

David Buchanan, BSc 1968, PhD 1971

Chief Executive, HSL

I had seven wonderful years at St Andrews.   I spent two years on the Students' Representative Council, including one year running the Book Exchange.   I was a member of the first Physics Department Staff-Student Council, an idea introduced by the late Prof Jack Allen, and believed to the first of its kind in the UK.   I also met the lady and fellow graduate who is my wife.   My only regret is that I did not play more golf.  

I graduated (BSc) in 1968 in theoretical physics, and I stayed on to complete PhD in statistical mechanics.   In 1971 I joined the UK Atomic Energy Authority's Culham Laboratory to work on fast breeder reactor safety.  I was there for three years.   I then spent the next 20 years working for British Coal, initially in exploration geophysics (work for which in 1985 I was awarded a DSc from St Andrews), and I finally held the position of Director of Research and Scientific Services.  In this capacity I was closely involved in the privatisation of British Coal's technical functions.  In 1994 I joined International Mining Consultants Ltd as the Director responsible for work in Health and Safety, and Geophysics.   In November 1995 I became Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), the Health and Safety Executive's technical agency.   HSL is a multidisciplinary organisation with 400 staff, most of them scientists and engineers, and is responsible for the forensic investigation of industrial accidents such as Piper Alpha.   I was also responsible for the construction of a new £60m laboratory under the Government's PFI initiative.   In 1997 I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.  

I have also held visiting chairs at a couple of universities, been a member of the EPSRC's User Panel, and on numerous EU research committees.   I was also on the Scientific Board of Liberty Mutual in Boston, Mass.   On initial retirement I acted as an independent consultant.  

I am now fully retired and playing enough golf.

First posted 1.14