Ian's research background is in ionospheric physics, with his PhD (University of Leicester, 1989) focusing on energy deposition and dissipation in the Earth's upper atmosphere. He joined RAL in 1991 and became head of its UK EISCAT Support Group in 1996, establishing a long heritage as a support scientist for ground-based instruments. He continues to work with the EISCAT Scientific Association and has chaired both its Council and Scientific Advisory Committee.
He is currently a member of the Natural Environment Research Council peer review college and the science strategy board for the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. In addition to upper atmosphere physics he has strong interests in space weather and in the radar tracking of space debris.