Scotland’s Rural College appoints new fellows to develop research on global issues

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) has appointed eight new academic fellows to lead the organisation on some the key challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.

The new Challenge Change Fellows will be working on areas such as climate change, food production, food security, digital innovation and growing the natural economy.

The Fellows will be developing research and knowledge exchange with businesses and policy makers. They will also be working with colleagues and students to bring new ideas and perspectives to teaching and commercial activity at SRUC.

The eight Challenge Change Fellows are:

  • Dr Hannah Rudman – specialist in digital and data innovation.
  • Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor – ecologist and conservation biologist specialising in human impacts.
  • Dr Neil Burns – ecologist specialising in population and ecosystem health.
  • Dr Luís Novo – specialist in Phytotechnologies and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Dr Bingjie Li – computational biologist specialising in quantitative genetics and breeding.
  • Dr Jolanda van Munster – microbiologist with a focus on the production of complex carbohydrates in biotechnology and agriculture.
  • Dr. Vijai Kumar Gupta – specialist in biomass, microbial biotechnology, and environmental sustainability.
  • Dr Roberta Bergero – plant biologist with a focus on breeding and evolution.

Coinciding with the appointment of the eight new fellows, SRUC has also created five Challenge-Driven Research Centres to co-ordinate research and build relationships with policy makers, businesses and other organisations. These Challenge-Driven Research Centres are based on delivering data and digital innovation, climate emergency, thriving natural capital, future food systems, and safe and improved food.

And following an internal process, SRUC has appointed the first two Challenge-Driven Research Centre leaders, with further appointments expected before the autumn. They are:

  • Nicola Holden, Professor in Food Safety. Nicola will lead the Safe and Improved Food Challenge Centre.
  • Mike Coffey, Professor in Livestock Informatics. Mike will lead the Delivering Data and Digital Innovation Challenge Centre.

Professor Wayne Powell, principal and chief executive of SRUC, said: “Supporting society, governments and businesses to meet the biggest of challenges facing us today is central to our refreshed mission and vision. Our Challenge Change Fellows enhance our capabilities within SRUC to meet these challenges and build our global reputation with an eye for real-world applications.

“Our Challenge-Driven Research Centres support collaboration with industry and policy makers. If we want to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, then science-led advice and ideas are going to be more important than ever.”

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