John Lawton was Chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (2005–2011). He served as Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council (1999–2005) and Director of the Centre for Population Biology at Imperial College (1989–1999). Trained as a zoologist at the University of Durham, John subsequently held posts at the universities of Oxford and York.
His scientific interests have focused on the population dynamics and biodiversity of birds and insects, with an emphasis over the last three decades on the impacts of global environmental change. He is a past President of the British Ecological Society and a former Chairman of the RSPB Council, and is currently a Vice-President of RSPB and President of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
John was knighted in 2005 for his contributions to ecological science. He has been awarded numerous other national and international prizes, including the 2004 Japan Prize. He was elected as a Foreign Member of both the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2008.
Chairman, York Museums Trust President, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust