My research, over the last 30 years, has focused on capturing and translating naturally occurring genetic variations present in crops germplasm for ‘public good’ outcomes. In particular, I have interests in developing and applying modern breeding methods utilising genomics to hasten crop breeding in tropical millets (Pennisetum glaucum, Eleusine coracana) and temperate forage grasses (Lolium perenne) leading to sustainable food, nutrition, health, and environmental outcomes at global scale. To achieve such goals, I collaborate extensively across the globe with academics and industries (e.g. Unilever, Hindustan Unilever, Germinal Holdings) and ‘not for profit’ inter-governmental organizations (such as European Union, CGIAR, FAO, IAEA) and passionate about pursuing ‘international development’ goals via sustainable agricultural developments. I am currently a member of UK government’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) sub panel 6: Agriculture, Food and Veterinary sciences (see details at - REF - https://www.ref.ac.uk/media/1789/main-panel-a-full-membership-list-nov-2021.pdf). REF in UK is a system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Earlier in 2020, I completed my 3 years tenure as a member of BBSRC’s ‘Follow-on-Fund Committee’. Presently, I am also a member of several research grant awarding panels within the UK (e.g. GCRF, Newton Fund, British Council, BBSRC, Innovate UK) and abroad (e.g. European Commission, Swedish Council for Sustainable Development (known as Formas)). In 2020, I reviewed global CRP ‘RICE’ hosted by IRRI (https://ricecrp.org/) to which I provided leadership in evaluating quality and effectiveness of its science, and provided recommendations for its future orientation. I am Academic editor of PlosOne Since 2014, and guest editing a special issue for Agronomy and Frontiers in Plant Science currently.
I am Professor of Plant Genetics and hold a Personal Chair in the department of IBERS of Aberystwyth University. I received my DPhil degree from the University of Sussex and subsequently undertook post-doctoral research at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines before coming to Aberystwyth in 1996. I also hold an adjunct professorship at Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, India.
BRM3920: Crop Genomics and Genetic Engineering
BRM0700 - Current Topics in Biotechnology
Research grants won/delivered in the last 5 years:
- PI - Capturing Naturally Occurring Genetic Variations for Health Benefitting Traits in Pearl Millet germplasm for Sustainable Food, Nutrition and Health Security, Funder - Royal Society, UK, £150,218, 8 March 2020 to 8 September 2022.
- PI - 2020 ASEM-DUO Professor exchange, India and European Countries, £2550, January 2020 - December2021. http://www.asemduo.org/02_programs/programs_10.php
- Co-I – A new paradigm in boosting orphan crops to super grains: Linking metabolomics and gene editing to improve Teff for global food security and sustainable agriculture (SUPERTEFF), EU, £191,193, 24 March 2020 to 24 January 2023.
- PI - Newton Bhabha PhD studentship, £10,200, Funder – Newton Fund, 2019
- PI – Delivering low glycaemic index (GI) pearl millet grains for the benefit of type-2 diabetics in African regions, InnovateUK, £498,000, 1 November 2019 to 30 April 2021
- PI - Development of pearl millet hybrid seeds and novel food products: An affordable resource in the prevention of type-2 diabetes. InnovateUK £814,000, March 2017-September 2019
- PI - Application of crop genetics to improve Calcium content in millets and other crops for promoting health benefits in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, EU, 2015-2017, £216,008.
- PI - Development of pearl millet for health benefits for type-2 diabetes – feasibility study of physicochemical properties and genetic enhancement, InnovateUK, March 2015-July 2017, £499,998.
- PI – Dissecting and accessing useful genetic variations for Iron and Zinc content in pearl millet using genome wide association studies, BBSRC and Unilever, 2014-2018, £245,000
- Co-I: Application of innovative plant breeding and phenotyping technologies to reduce the nutrient requirements of forages and improve livestock production efficiency, £1.16M, InnovateUK
- Co-I - Novel strategies for genetic improvement of disease resistance in perennial ryegrass, Funder - InnovateUK, 2015-2020, £785,394.
- Co-I - Roots for the future – A systematic approach to root design (SUREROOT), BBSRC Link, £2.5 million, 2014-2019.
- Co-I - Genomics-assisted breeding for fatty acid content and composition in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), BBSRC Link, £2.4 million, 2013-2018.