University of Dundee

Robbie Waugh appointed to Director of International Barley Hub

06 May 2021

Professor Robbie Waugh, a renowned barley geneticist based at the James Hutton Institute and the University of Dundee, has been appointed Director of International Barley Hub (IBH).

Professor Waugh said, “I’m delighted to take on the challenge of leading IBH. Barley is one of the UK’s most valuable crops and investing in barley research can yield great returns and is likely to have a significant economic impact.”

Backed by a £35m investment from the UK and Scottish governments via the Tay Cities Region Deal, IBH seeks to secure the long-term future of the barley sector by helping develop new varieties and growing systems that can cope with future climate change, plus new uses for the crop. Barley is Scotland’s most important crop and a fundamental component of many key food and drink industries; it is pivotal to brewing and distilling and is also used for animal feed.

The project is underpinned by decades of research at the James Hutton Institute and partners, including the University of Dundee, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Abertay University, the Rowett Institute and others. Businesses and sectoral interest groups such as the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, Maltsters Association of GB, and the National Farmers Union Scotland form part of the project consortium’s demand side.

James Brosnan, IBH Chair, commented, “I am delighted that Robbie has been appointed as our first Director of Research.

“His sustained record of research excellence and vision for how science can deliver global crop solutions will put the IBH on the right track to establish a powerful scientific network of collaboration supporting the barley supply chain.”

Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, said: “It is a pleasure to welcome Robbie as Director of Research for the of IBH. He is a highly successful and dynamic leader who is well respected in his field, with influential national and international networks, and a clear and exciting vision for the future.

“The IBH will create jobs, aid the green recovery we all need and want, as well as cement the reputation of Scotland and the whole of the UK as global leaders in research and innovation.”

The appointment was announced by the James Hutton Institute alongside the appointment of directors for their other two flagship research and innovation initiatives: the Advanced Plant Growth Centre (APGC), based in Dundee with the IBH, and the International Land Use Study Centre (ILUSC) in Aberdeen. APGC will be led by Professor Derek Stewart, a former Chair of Food Chemistry at Heriot Watt University while Dr Lee-Ann Sutherland, an internationally recognised rural sociologist, has been appointed director of ILUSC.

These three centres are flagship initiatives for the institute’s new 5-year Open Science Campus plan and will be enabled by significant investment in new buildings and facilities starting this year. New access roads to the Invergowrie and Craigiebuckler sites will allow reconfiguration of the estates that encourages more private and public sector partners to co-locate with the James Hutton Institute and get access to their world-class facilities and people.

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