New science leadership team announced

The foundation of The James Hutton Institute has taken a major step forward with the announcement of the senior science leadership team.

The James Hutton Institute was formed earlier this year by the coming together of the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute in Aberdeen and SCRI in Dundee, Scotland’s world renowned crop research centre. The new organisation employs more than 600 people, making it one of the biggest research institutes in Europe.  The Institute plans to organise its environmental and agricultural science using defined research themes and specialist science groups. The ability to organise research in Scotland on a multi-disciplinary basis was one of the reasons behind the creation of The James Hutton Institute.

Twelve senior scientists will work with Director of Research Impact, Dr Bob Ferrier and Director of Science Excellence, Professor Colin Campbell to make a reality of the ‘matrix management’ system for interdisciplinary working across the Aberdeen and Dundee sites...and the wider structure of JHI.

The selection process involved more than 20 interviews, a process described by the management team as “exciting and informative”.  Colin Campbell said: “The quality of the candidates has been extremely high and it is testament to the breadth and depth of the research undertaken at the Institute.  The candidates are of international standing, innovative and have a strong vision for how the Institute can flourish into the future. The interviews were part of a process of evolving and refining our plans."

Professor Lesley Torrance will take on the leadership of the Cell and Molecular Sciences group and Professor David Marshall will head up Information & Computational Sciences. Dr Andy Midwood will take charge of Environmental and Biochemical Sciences on an interim basis. Dr Pete Goddard will lead Ecological Sciences and Professor Bill Slee takes responsibility for Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences.

On behalf of the Research Themes, Dr Bob Ferrier said: “Following completion of the interview process we took the opportunity to reflect on the number, composition and resource allocations of the research themes and have chosen to operate seven areas of research.

Nurturing Vibrant and Low Carbon Communities will be led by Dr Robin Matthews. The role of green energy will be a feature of a theme called Realising Land’s Potential which will be led by Professor David Miller. This gives us the flexibility to develop a free standing green energy theme in the future as we re-align our activities in this area. Dr Derek Stewart is to head up the Enhancing Crop Productivity and Utilisation theme, Dr Paul Hallett will take on Delivering Sustainable Production Systems and Professor Ian Toth has responsibility for Controlling Weeds, Pests and Diseases.

“In the case of some other research themes, it was felt that we have the chance to look at the challenges facing the world in the years ahead and we are delighted to announce that Professor Alison Hester (Safeguarding Natural Capital) and Dr Marc Stutter (Managing Catchments and Coasts) have agreed to take on the role of interim Theme Leader until our plans for the future have been finalised. We thank them for their enthusiasm and commitment."

JHI Chief Executive, Iain Gordon, who is currently in the USA, said: “Our congratulations to the successful candidates and we look forward to working closely with them. This is an exciting time for all of us and the appointment of Group and Theme leads is a tremendous opportunity to pull together teams and resources to move us forward”.

The next stage will be for the Theme and Group leads to develop implementations plans for their areas of responsibility over the coming months and to contribute to the completion of the Hutton science and business strategies.

The senior staff at JHI work across all the sites operated by the Institute, including Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh. The ‘home’ sites for the science leaders are shown in brackets.

Science Groups

Cell & Molecular Sciences – Professor Lesley Torrance (Dundee)   

Environmental and Biochemical Sciences – Dr Andy Midwood (Aberdeen)

Ecological Sciences – Dr Pete Goddard (Aberdeen)           

Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences – Professor Bill Slee (Aberdeen)

Information and Computational Sciences – Professor David Marshall (Dundee)    

Research Themes

Safeguarding Natural Capital – Dr Alison Hester (Aberdeen)

Enhancing Crop Productivity and Utilisation – Dr Derek Stewart (Dundee)

Delivering Sustainable Production Systems – Dr Paul Hallett (Dundee)

Controlling Weeds, Pests and Diseases- Professor Ian Toth (Dundee)        

Managing Catchments and Coasts – Dr Marc Stutter (Aberdeen)   

Realising Land's Potential – Professor David Miller (Aberdeen)

Nurturing Vibrant and Low Carbon Communities – Dr Robin Matthews (Aberdeen) 

Published on 28 June 2011 in Sustainability and Communities , Climate, water and energy , Ecosystems and biodiversity , Food, health and wellbeing