NEWS: Dr Sigrid Heuer to lead NIAB’s crop improvement and resilience programme

13 Oct 2021
Dr Sigrid Heuer
NIAB has appointed Dr Sigrid Heuer to lead its pre-breeding department and develop a programme on trait dissection and gene discovery for crop improvement and resilience, addressing the key issues farming faces while adapting to a changing climate and transitioning to sustainable farming systems.

Dr Heuer will lead strategic research and development, building upon NIAB’s expertise in pre-breeding of arable crops and complementing NIAB’s work in statistical genetics, biotechnology and data science as well as its significant programme of farming systems research and industry-facing knowledge exchange. Sigrid will also ensure close interaction with the University of Cambridge through the Crop Science Centre and develop joint projects supporting NIAB's gene discovery efforts as well as training the next generation of plant scientists.  

Sigrid joins from Rothamsted Research and has had a varied international career to date. After obtaining her PhD in Germany, for the past twenty years she has worked as a Molecular Crop Physiologist in Senegal, the Philippines and Australia, before moving to the UK. Throughout, her research focussed on enhancing stress tolerance and nutrient-use efficiency in crops and she currently has several ongoing projects on high temperature stress in wheat, rice and beans. She is also part of the BBSRC-funded Designing Future Wheat programme and will continue her ongoing work on plant responses to nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers at NIAB. 

Speaking about her appointment, Sigrid says. "At NIAB, I look forward to developing a multi-disciplinary programme accessing and exploiting the tremendous genetic diversity that is available within wheat and other crops. Making this useful for breeders and farmers to enhance the sustainability of our food systems is our immediate priority."

Dr Richard Harrison, NIAB’s Director of Crop Research says, "We are delighted that Sigrid is joining us at this critical time for agriculture. Our crop research programme will benefit enormously from her broad experience, knowledge and leadership. We need expertise in many different areas, including computer sciences, molecular technologies, genetics and breeding, as well as phenotyping and agronomy, and Sigrid, and her team at NIAB, will be central to achieving our ambitions to put plant science into practice.’

"NIAB has a tremendous amount of relevant expertise, and with its close partnership with both, industry and the University of Cambridge, NIAB is a very exciting place to be at, at an exciting time. I very much look forward to leading the team," finishes Dr Heuer.