Remembering Professor Ian Mackay

16 Jun 2023
Professor Ian 'Mac' Mackay
We’re very sad to hear the news that Professor Ian Mackay, or simply ‘Mac’ to those who worked with him, passed away last week.

Mac was a quantitative geneticist of international standing, with a firm background in the plant breeding industry.

He joined NIAB in 2005 as part of our strategic bolstering of crop genetic research, working closely with Wayne Powell and Andy Greenland, and immediately made an impact. NIAB’s multi-parent ‘MAGIC’ populations  (a term he coined) were Mac’s brainchild, and he instigated, curated and taught NIAB’s highly-regarded Quantitative Methods in Plant Breeding two-week intensive course that influenced a generation of breeders.

Mac had an excellent sense of humour and always had time for colleagues and friends at NIAB. He enjoyed teaching, trips to the pubs in Cambridge, and coming up with exciting project ideas. He always showed a large amount of grace and patience when working with, and helping, others.

Even after leaving in 2017, he remained a close collaborator, writing papers and grants with former colleagues, and he continued to offer help in experimental design and statistical analysis as a visiting consultant until ill health recently intervened. Ian was made an Honorary NIAB Fellow last summer in recognition of the impact and legacy of the science he had led and the staff he had trained and mentored. Indeed, the wealth of publications and training material he produced will help many generations of plant breeders and scientists.

NIAB sends our deepest condolences to his family, the many friends and colleagues Mac leaves behind.