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Scientific discussion meeting organised by Professor Guy Poppy, Professor Paul Jepson, Professor John Pickett CBE FRS and Dr Michael Birkett.
A growing population coupled with climate change increases pressure on land and food security. The sustainable production of sufficient food, water and energy is challenging and boundaries between intensive/extensive and high tech/low tech agriculture need to be broken down. This meeting reports on innovative science and adoption of novel strategies that open new windows of opportunity for sustainable production intensification.
Biographies of the organisers and speakers are available below and you can also download the programme (PDF ). Recorded audio of the presentations are also available on this page after the event and papers will be published in a future issue of Philosophical Transactions B.
Professor John Pickett CBE FRS, Rothamsted Research, UK
Professor John A Pickett is originally an organic chemist (BSc 1967, PhD 1971, DSc 1993) who has gained worldwide recognition, with many honours and awards to his name, for his investigations into volatile natural products that affect the behaviour and development of animals and other organisms (semiochemicals). He is a world authority on semiochemicals in insect behaviour and plays a leading rôle in the move away from the traditional use of wide-spectrum pesticides to more precise control through compounds targeted against specific pests at critical stages in their life cycles. Recent practical successes include a programme for controlling stem borer pests and striga weeds in Africa, where thousands of subsistence farmers have already adopted systems for exploiting the natural product chemicals of certain companion crops. In 1976, John moved to Rothamsted Research to lead a team working on new methods of pest control. He headed the Department of Biological Chemistry there from 1984-2010, and now holds the first Michael Elliott Distinguished Research Fellowship at Rothamsted. As well as fulfilling this prestigious new role, he continues to lead research into the field of chemical ecology.
Professor Guy Poppy, University of Southampton, UK
Guy Poppy gained his DPhil from Oxford University and conducts research in many areas relating to environmental and ecological sciences. He was the director of Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton and managed the move of this large school into a new £45 million Life Sciences Building in 2010. He is currently the University of Southampton’s Director of multidisciplinary research which involves directing 12 university strategic research groups addressing grand challenges as well as the university’s overall multidisciplinary strategy. His personal research portfolio is broad but involves leading a large multidisciplinary team researching ecosystem services with a particular focus on securing food supplies without affecting the quality of the environment. This includes projects in Africa, South Asia and South America where conservation versus agriculture is a major issue (see http://espa-assets.org/ ). He has regularly participated in the public understanding of science and is passionate about educating people and especially the next generation about science and the environment.
Professor Paul Jepson, Oregon State University, USA
Paul Jepson is Director of the Integrated Plant Protection Center at Oregon State University and a Professor of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology. He leads research and extension programs in sustainable agriculture in the Western USA and internationally. He completed a B.Sc. in Zoology at Imperial College, London and a Ph.D. at Cambridge University before developing an international M.Sc. in IPM and an ecotoxicology research program at Southampton University, UK. He has been at Oregon State University since 1995. Paul has extensive international experience, working with the UN FAO and other partners in S. America, Africa and Asia. His current research examines the relative roles of farmer education and regulation in the production and environmental sustainability of agricultural systems.
Professor John Beddington CMG FRS, Government Office for Science, UKChair
Professor Charles Godfray CBE FRS, Director of the Martin Programme on the future of food
Charles Godfray is Hope Professor at Oxford University and Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been at Oxford since 2006 and was previously Head of Biology and director of the NERC Centre for Population Biology at Imperial College London where he remains a visiting professor. He is a population biologist with broad interests in the environmental sciences and has published in fundamental and applied areas of ecology, evolution and epidemiology. He chaired the Lead Expert Group of the UK Government’s Foresight Project on the Future of Food and Farming and is a member of the strategy advisory board of the UK Global Food Security Programme and the steering group of the UK Government Green Food Project.
Professor Roger Beachy, President Emeritus of the Danforth Centre, USA
Dr Roger Beachy was appointed by Pres. Obama as the first Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving from 2009 to mid-2011. He was founding president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, held professorial appointments at The Scripps Research Institute and at Washington University in St. Louis. In 1986 Beachy and colleagues developed the first genetically modified food crop, a tomato modified for resistance to virus disease. Beachy was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and is a Wolf Prize Laureate. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, the American Academy of Microbiology, Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Science India, the Indian National Science Academy, and The Third World Academy of Sciences. He received the Bank of Delaware's Commonwealth Award for Science and Industry and the Ruth Allen Award from the American Phytopathological Society, among other awards.
Professor Tim Wheeler, Department for International Development, UK
Professor Tim Wheeler is Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK Department for International Development. He is on secondment from the University of Reading where he is Professor of Crop Science. Professor Wheeler has published more than 165 scientific publications over the last 20 years on how climate change could impact on the sustainability of agriculture and food, undertaking research in Bolivia, Honduras, The Gambia, Uganda, China and India. He has provided advice on the sustainability of food and farming to agri-businesses and food multi-nationals, often up to Board level. At DFID, Professor Wheeler oversees most of the research commissioned by the Research and Evidence Division. He has extensive experience of working with policy-makers in the UK and internationally: providing evidence and advice to Ministers and acting as Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords in 2010. In 2005 he gave the prestigious Royal Society Public Lecture on 'Growing crops in a changing climate'. Professor Wheeler is a member of BBSRC Council.
Sosten Chiotha, L.E.A.D
Sosten S. Chiotha of Malawi received a Bachelor of Education from the University of Malawi, a Master of Science in Medical Parasitology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK and a PhD in Environmental Science from the University of Maryland at College Park in the USA. After two years as a School teacher, S.S. Chiotha joined Biology Department of the University of Malawi where he lectured for many years in medical parasitology. In 1991, he became the University of Malawi Research Coordinator until December 1996 when he became the Regional Program Director for Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD)-Southern Africa. S. S. Chiotha has written extensively and was the lead author for the 2010 “State of Environment and Outlook Report for Malawi. He is currently leading two major projects in Malawi, namely; Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Adaptation Programme, funded by Royal Norwegian Embassy and Attaining Sustainability Services from Ecosystems through Trade-off scenarios(ASSETS) funded by ESPA, UK.
Dr William Settle, FAO Rome
William Settle is a Senior Technical Officer at the Headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome. His work currently focuses on seeking funding; designing and managing projects related to community based non-formal education through Farmer Field Schools, in seven Sahelian-zone countries in West Africa. Dr. Settle received his Ph.D in entomology from the University of California, Davis, in 1988 and subsequently did post-doctoral work in ecology at the University of Washington. From 1991-1995, Dr. Settle directed a research team on rice insect community ecology in Indonesia. From 1997-2002 he worked as a consultant on Field Schools in 12 countries in Asia. His efforts for the past 20 years have aimed to help farming communities in developing countries to develop an adaptive, pragmatic approach to small-holder farm management.
Dr Kim Anderson, Oregon State University, USA
Professor John Antle, Oregon State University, USA
John M. Antle is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, and a University Fellow at Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C.; and previously a professor at the University of California, Davis, and Montana State University. He received the PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago in 1980. He has served as a senior staff economist for the President's Council of Economic Advisers in Washington, D.C. (1989-90); as a member of the National Research Council's Board on Agriculture (1991‑97); and was a lead and contributing author to the IPCC third and fourth assessment reports. He is a Fellow and past President of the American Agricultural Economics Association. His current research focuses on the sustainability of agricultural systems in industrialized and developing countries, including climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation; assessment of environmental and social impacts of agricultural technologies; and geologic carbon sequestration.
Professor Sir David Baulcombe FRSChair
David Baulcombe studied Botany at Leeds (BSc) and Edinburgh (PhD) Universities. After periods in Montreal, the University of Georgia and the Cambridge Plant Breeding Institute he spent 20 years at the Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich. He joined Cambridge University in 2007 where he is Royal Society Research Professor and Regius Professor of Botany.
Professor Ted Turlings, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland
Biography not yet available
Professor Jonathan Jones FRS, Sainsbury Lab, UK
Jonathan Jones (JJ) studied cereal cytogenetics for his PhD with Dick Flavell at the Plant Breeding Institute, Trumpington, and was then a postdoc with Fred Ausubel in Boston 1981-82, on symbiotic nitrogen fixation.
From 1983-88, JJ worked at a start-up agbiotech company (Advanced Genetic Sciences, Oakland, CA) founded to use molecular biology for crop improvement.
In 1988, he became one of the first recruits at The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, where he made significant contributions to our understanding of plant transposons, and of plant disease and disease resistance. JJ is a strong advocate in Europe of the potential benefits of GM crops.
- The plant immune system, Jones JD, Dangl JL. (2006) Nature 444: 323-9
- Plant pathogens and integrated defence responses to infection, Dangl JL, Jones JD. (2001) Nature 411:826-33.
Professor Zeyaur Khan, ICIPE Kenya
Professor Zeyaur R Khan, a distinguished international professional entomologist and agricultural scientist, has dedicated his research career to advancing the science and practice of entomology and applying chemical and behavioral ecology, plant-plant communication and insect-plant interactions to improve agricultural production to combat poverty and food insecurity in Africa. Professor Khan is a Principal Scientist and Program Leader with the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) (www.icipe.org), Nairobi, Kenya, and a Visiting Professor of Entomology at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Recently, icipe has awarded Prof. Khan its highest honour, naming him the first Thomas Risley Odhiambo Distinguished Research Fellow in recognition of his outstanding achievements in the advancement of agricultural science. In 2010, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) honored Prof. Khan with triple awards—Fellow of ESA, Nan-Yao Su Award for Creativity and Innovation in Entomology, and Distinguished Scientist Award. The Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) has named Prof. Khan as a co-winner of 2012 TWAS Prize in Agriculture for his discovery and wide-scale implementation of the Push-Pull Technology ̶ a pro-poor innovation for enhancing food security and environmental sustainability in Africa
Professor Louise Vet, Director Netherlands Institute of EcologyChair
Louise E.M. Vet is a professor of Evolutionary Ecology at Wageningen University and director of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), the largest institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is an ecologist with a broad interest in ecology and evolution, working on multitrophic interactions. She is internationally well known for her work on parasitoid behaviour and plant-parasitoid interactions. In 1999 she moved from Wageningen University to the NIOO. Here she expanded her research with a new group to initiate studies on the interaction between above and belowground multitrophic systems. Her research involves chemical, behavioural and molecular ecology of plants and insects in a multitrophic and community context. The research ranges from fundamental to strategic: from questions on the evolution of species traits and species interactions within communities to the strategic development of sustainable agro-ecosystems that are primarily based on the prevention of pests and diseases (life-support function of biodiversity).
Dr Ben Phalan, University of Cambridge, UK
Ben Phalan is a Zukerman Research Fellow in Global Food Security at King’s College, Cambridge. His main research interests are in the environmental sustainability of food production: in particular how food production and biodiversity conservation can be reconciled. He uses a range of methods, from fieldwork to global-scale analyses, to explore the consequences of different food production trajectories for biodiversity, and to evaluate potential conservation strategies. His work focuses mainly on developing countries, especially in West Africa, where the multiple challenges of improving food security, maintaining ecosystem services, conserving wild species and finding truly ‘sustainable’ ways of increasing agricultural production are most acute.
Professor Ferdinando Villa, University of Bilbao, Spain
Ferdinando Villa holds a PhD in theoretical Ecology and had a long parallel career as a scientific software designer and engineer. After working in many fields of Ecology he has focused his research at the interface of policy, ecology, economics and computer science, concentrating on artificial intelligence approaches to assist environmental decision making and natural system assessment and valuation. He collaborates with many international institutions and governments on environmental assessment methods and is the author or coauthor of 120+ scientific publications and many open source software packages. He has been the recipient of several million USD from the US National Science Foundation, the European Union, governments and private foundations for projects that integrate novel science with sophisticated decision support method. His most current effort, the ARIES project (www.ariesonline.org) is redefining the field of integrated assessment of ecosystem services and providing new approaches to address the challenge of environmental decision making in the 21st century.
Dr Celia Harvey, Global Challenge and Ecosystem Sevrices, Conservation International, USA
Dr. Celia A. Harvey is an ecologist with 15 years of international experience working on biodiversity conservation, sustainable agriculture, climate change, and tropical agroforestry. She currently serves as Vice President of Ecosystem Services at Conservation International (CI), where she leads the institution’s research on climate change mitigation, agriculture, food security, adaptation and ecosystem services. She also provides science-based support to climate change policy discussions on REDD+ and ecosystem based adaptation. Prior to her current position, Dr. Harvey was Senior Advisor of Climate Change Initiatives at CI and was responsible for developing and implementing a diverse portfolio of Forest Carbon Projects, building regional and partner capacity in climate change strategies, and providing scientific and technical support to REDD+ pilot projects. From 1999 to 2006, Dr. Harvey was a Professor in Tropical Agroforestry and Biodiversity Conservation at CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) in Costa Rica, where she led the Master’s program in Tropical Agroforestry and conducted field research on biodiversity conservation, farmer decision making and farm productivity in agricultural landscapes. Dr. Harvey has published widely on issues related to biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes and is the co-editor of two books ‘Agroforestry and Biodiversity Conservation in Tropical Landscapes’ (Island Press, 2004), and ‘Evaluación y Conservación de Biodiversidad en Paisajes Fragmentados de Mesoamérica’ (INBio 2008). Her current research focuses on ‘Assessing Agricultural Risk Management Strategies among Remote, Vulnerable Communities in Madagascar’, ‘Ecosystem-based adaptation for smallholder and coffee farmers in Central America’ and the ESPA ASSETS project. She holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University and a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University.
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