I did a PhD at Bristol University in molecular biology and intracellular signalling and worked at Long Ashton Research Station from 1992-1998. I then moved to Rothamsted Research to take up a position as Senior Research Scientist and group leader until 2016 when I joined IBERS. I have an international reputation in developing and applying in-vitro tissue culture and biotechnological approaches to study gene function and to facilitate plant breeding. I have experience applying these in cereals and also poplar and willow; however, in my role at IBERS, I focus on forage grasses and clovers. I have particular interests in gene editing using site-directed nucleases and in RNAi mediated gene silencing to simultaneously edit or down-regulate homoeologous genes in polyploid genomes; also in exploiting chloroplast inheritance, doubled haploidy and heterosis for plant breeding. I have significant experience in risk-assessment and regulatory aspects of biotechnology. I currently sit on the UK Food Standard Agency's Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes. As an expert member of the GMO panel European Food Safety Authority (2009-2018, the last two yeas as vice-chair), I co-authored more than 150 scientific risk assessment opinions and technical guidance documents. I have also held two Defra licences for non-commercial, field trials of GM wheat in the UK. I was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in 2002.
I have held the following positions: Member of BBSRC pool of experts, Jan 2017 – current, Honorary Scientist, Rothamsted Research, 2016 – 2019, Honorary Professor, School of Biosciences, Nottingham University, 2009 – 2018, Chair, UK Plant Sciences Federation Working Group on Regulatory Frameworks, 2014-2015, Member of the Expert Working Group on Wheat Breeding Methods and Strategies. International Wheat Initiative. 2014 – current, BBSRC Global Food Security Programme Communication Group. 2013 – 2016, Monogram steering committee, 2011 – 2015, BBC Rural Affairs Committee, 2012 – 2013, Plant physiology and Crop Improvement Group AAB 2007- 2013, British Crop Protection Council, Science Strategy Board. 2004 – 2008, Institute of Biology, Agricultural Sciences Committee. 2001 – 2004, judging panel for BBSRC Small Grants for Public Engagements 2004 – 2009, Member of Advisory Group on BBSRC Response to Public Concerns. 2002-2005.
Breeding methodologies; plant tissue culture and biotechnology; plant functional genomics.