NIAB - National Institute of Agricultural Botany

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The NIAB Board


Jim Godfrey

Mr Jim Godfrey (Chairman)

Elected as Chairman of the NIAB Board in September 2016, Jim Godfrey OBE is director with his two sons of RJ & AE Godfrey, a family farming business growing a range of arable crops in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire together with breeding and rearing pigs.

He is also Chairman of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a memberof the UK Government’s Agri-Food Technology Council, a steering group member of the Commercial Farmers Group, a director of the Lincolnshire Rural Support Network (LRSN), President of the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) and a member of Lincoln University Industry Agri-Food Technology Group.

Jim was awarded the OBE for services to agricultural research in Scotland in 2002. He is a Fellow of both the Institute of Directors and the Royal Agricultural Societies.

Richard Macdonald


Mr Richard Macdonald (Vice-chairman)

A former Director-General of the NFU Richard is currently a Governor of The Royal Agricultural College Cirencester; Trustee of Farm Africa, Chairman of SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approval) an independent auditing and certification body for small food businesses; Trustee of the Nuffield Agricultural Trust; Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society, a non-Executive Director of Moy Park and Director of the Bicton Overseas Agricultural Trust. He also chairs Defra's Better Regulation Task Force and has recently been appointed as a non-Executive Director for Dairy Crest.

Richard was awarded a CBE in Birthday Honours List in 2002 for services to agriculture. Hobbies include participation in a number of sports, gardening, local radio broadcasting, and involvement in the East African Wildlife Society.

Robert Harle - NIAB Board

Mr Robert Harle

Elected to the NIAB Board in September 2012 Robert is a partner in two family businesses farming arable, beef and sheep in Durham and Northumberland, and has been involved with farmer-funded near market research since 1985. He was a member of the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Farm’s Advisory Committee and Farm Directorate 1989-2002.

Robert was a director of the North of England Arable Centre (NEAC) 1986-1990 and chairman 1990-1999 when it merged with Arable Research Centres (ARC).  He was a director of ARC from 1999 to 2003, and following the merger with the Morley Research Centre was a director of The Arable Group (TAG) from 2003 to 2013.

Charles Lang

Dr Charles Lang

Since graduating from Cambridge University in 1960 Charles has spent most of his career working in the field of computational geometry, computer graphics and computer-aided design (CAD). After returning from two years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1965, he founded the CAD Group at the Cambridge University Computer Laboratory before jointly founding Shape Data Ltd in 1974 and Three-Space Ltd in 1986. Both these Cambridge companies specialised in 3D geometric computation and its application. The 3D geometric modellers they developed are used in CAD systems worldwide.

More recently Charles has been taking an active interest in problems arising from climate change, and in particular issues relating to global food security. He is using his experience to encourage and support entrepreneurship in agriculture and associated industries.

Kathy Fidgeon

Kathy Fidgeon FCA

Kathy is a Chartered Accountant and a partner in Fidgeons, a firm of accountants based in the Cotswolds. She is an audit specialist and was a partner at Grant Thornton for more than 20 years before leaving in 2013 to set up a new accountancy practice. Throughout her professional life Kathy has dealt with a wide range of clients, acting for individuals, partnerships, trusts and companies across a broad spectrum of businesses. Her sector specialisms are Agriculture, Charities/NFP and Property.

With her interest in developing people, Kathy was part of a small team responsible for the appointment of new partners at Grant Thornton and, as a trained coach, was also involved in the coaching of new partners.

Kathy has served on the national Membership and Practicing Certificate Committees of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and is currently a Governor and member of the Audit Committee of a local independent school.

Nigel Kerby

Dr Nigel Kerby

Following postdoctoral research on carbon and nitrogen fixation, Nigel was appointed as a lecturer in Microbiology at the University of Dundee. In 1993 he left academic research to focus on technology translation and transfer, and took up the position of Managing Director of Mylnefield Research Services Ltd, the commercial affiliate of James Hutton Research Institute; retiring in April 2015. Current interests include plant and crop science, particularly plant breeding and its importance in addressing global development, sustainability and food production. Nigel was awarded a MBE in 2014 for services to business and science.

Nigel is a Fellow of the Institute of Biology and a member of the Governing Board of International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics. Previous appointments have included Chairing the Dundee and Tayside branch of the Institute of Directors and directorships of several companies including the China Britain Business Council.

Prof Alison Smith

Prof Alison G Smith

Alison Smith is Professor of Plant Biochemistry in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, UK, where she teaches undergraduates in Natural Sciences, and runs a research group funded by BBSRC, Innovate UK and EU FP7. Her research interests are focussed around the metabolism of plants, algae and bacteria, in particular of vitamins and cofactors, and of lipid precursors for chemicals and biofuels. As well as developing strategies for metabolic engineering of algae, she has been instrumental in advocating the use of microbial consortia for optimizing growth of dense algal cultures for industrial cultivation. She is a founding member of the Algal Biotechnology Consortium (ABC), the interests of which are in exploiting algae for example for biomass and biodiesel production, and remediation of waste streams including water and CO2.

Alison is a member of the BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology Strategy Panel, and the Management Boards of two BBSRC-EPSRC-Innovate UK Networks in Industrial Biotechnology. She is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, where she has been Director of Studies in Biology, Admissions Tutor for Science, and a member of the Executive Body. From 2001-2015 she was a Council member of the Council of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, a charity aimed at promoting science, and its President 2010-2011. She is currently a Governor on the Council of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in 2012.

Steve Ellwood

Mr Steve Ellwood

Steve has spent his career in the food and farming sector and now has a number of non executive roles with UK based companies. These include businesses operating in fresh produce, poultry meat, large scale farm management and animal feed production. He is a graduate of Newcastle University and spent a number of years leading HSBC Banks Agriculture Team. Outside of work he is a fell walker and keen cricket fan and commits a significant amount of time to charity and voluntary work.

 Prof Ian Puddephat

Prof Ian Puddephat

Ian Puddephat is a crop physiologist with a diverse interest in plant biology, crop breeding and agronomy. He is experienced in leading complex programmes, from discovery to commercial application, and has worked in both academia and industry. He built PepsiCo’s crop science R&D capability in support of the company’s portfolio transformation in their nutrition, beverage and snack foods businesses.

Prior to joining PepsiCo Ian led Syngenta’s global vegetable R&D organisation and was responsible for the delivery of new varieties in a range of fruit and vegetable crops. He has led several multi-disciplinary projects aimed at delivering enhanced consumer benefit from unprocessed agricultural products. Ian has built collaborative R&D programmes with a range of technology and academic partners over his career to support delivery and foster innovation, including the establishment of a crop improvement centre for PepsiCo in the University of Minnesota.

Ian’s current interests are in the application of genomic breeding to orphan crops for the elevation of nutritional quality in grains and adaptation of new cultivars of grains and potato to high temperature environments. He is an honorary professor of life science at the University of Warwick and a visiting professor at Cranfield University. Ian holds a PhD in horticulture from the University of Nottingham and is an Applied Biology graduate of Coventry Polytechnic.

 Mr Robert Lowson

Mr Robert Lowson

Robert Lowson is a former senior civil servant, working for MAFF and Defra. His posts included Minister in the UK Permanent Representation to the EU, Communications Director and Environment Strategy Director in Defra, and Senior Advisor with the European Environment Agency (EEA). Since ceasing full time work he has undertaken a range of consultancy projects, including as National Contact Point for EU Space Research, a project for Cambridge University, and work for the EEA. He lives in Cambridge, where he is Secretary of a large residents' association, and vice-chair of an educational trust. He was joint Chair of the Cambridge for Europe campaign in the 2016 Referendum.