NIAB Appoints Three New Research Scientists

3 Apr 2008

The National Institute of Agricultural Botany has appointed three new research scientists to work on cutting edge projects which could help farmers produce more sustainable crops at a time when feeding the world’s population has become increasingly vital.

The new recruits are Gemma Rose and Dasuni Jayaweera who joined on 1 April, with Harika Akkinepalli starting on 1 May. All are skilled molecular geneticists with Masters degrees and their recruitment demonstrates NIAB’s commitment to expanding its pioneering research projects at its centre in Huntingdon Road, Cambridge.

Gemma is researching wheat in collaboration with the John Innes Centre and British Wheat Breeders. It is hoped the project will enable farmers to grow sustainable crops in areas of drought stress by producing crops with an earlier flowering season which will make yields more productive.

Dasuni is joining NIAB’s group on the pan-European EURIGEN project studying the genetic diversity of European rice. It is hoped the project will ultimately help farmers yield more productive and profitable rice crops in the Mediterranean.

Huriki will join NIAB’s scientists working on the Sustainable Agriculture Research for International Development project in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute, based in the Philippines. It involves vital research on rice genetics which will lead to the creation of climate resistant breeds of rice for Africa and Asia.

Prof Andy Greenland, Research Director at NIAB, said they had trebled their research team over the last two years as demands for their scientific skills had increased with projects based in the UK and with collaborative work overseas.

He said:

“Since 2006 we’ve gone from about 10-12 people in research to a group of 34. We’ve been successful in bidding for money from sources like the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and DEFRA and are also well supported by the NIAB Trust and that has allowed us to increase our activities and develop new scientific areas.

“NIAB has now got a reputation for the science it is doing, particularly in ensuring that new scientific discoveries in plant sciences are fully exploited in agriculture.”

Prof Wayne Powell, Chief Executive of NIAB, welcomed the new staff at a time when the scientific knowledge of crops was expanding rapidly, providing the knowledge base to help feed the world’s future population.

Further information is available from Prof Andy Greenland

Press enquiries can also be made to Ellee Seymour, 01353 648564 or 07939 811961