Crop Science Centre - Driven by impact, fuelled by excellence

Crop Science Centre

Driven by impact, fuelled by excellence

Dr Richard Harrison


Dr Richard Harrison



Richard is the Director of NIAB Cambridge Crop Research (https://www.niab.com/about/people/dr-richard-harrison), a part of the NIAB Group, composed of research and service delivery in arable crop genetics, breeding, pathology, biotechnology and data science. 

Publications

Crop Science Centre

Driven by impact, fuelled by excellence

Dr Tina Barsby

Dr Tina Barsby


Tina, a plant geneticist well-known for her scientific achievements and significant experience in the agricultural crop sector, is the CEO of NIAB.

Publications

Crop Science Centre

Driven by impact, fuelled by excellence

Professor Uta Paszkowski


Professor Uta Paszkowski



Uta Paszkowski is Professor of Plant Molecular Genetics at the Department of Plant Sciences of the University of Cambridge and leads the Cereal Symbiosis Group at the Crop Science Centre. She did her undergraduate studies at the University Cologne (Germany) gaining a Master (Diplom) degree in phytopathology at the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding.

Publications

Crop Science Centre

Driven by impact, fuelled by excellence

Professor Giles E. D. Oldroyd

Professor Giles E. D. Oldroyd


Giles Oldroyd studies interactions between plants and beneficial micro-organisms, both bacteria and fungi, that aid in the uptake of nutrients from the environment, especially nitrogen and phosphorus. These microbial associations are intracellular, allowing tight control of nutrient exchange, with sources of carbon delivered to the microorganisms from the plant in exchange for nitrogen and phosphorus.

Publications

Professor Uta Paszkowski

“I am excited to further my research at the Crop Science Centre. Working as a woman and mother in the science arena for more than 25 years I value equality and flexibility, and above all authenticity. Diversity is a strength that enables scientific imagination to flourish to its full potential.”

Professor Giles Oldroyd

“I am proud to be both the director of this institution and an openly gay man. For me, turning up to work authentically is important for my scientific creativity. I hope my honesty about my sexuality empowers others to also be open about who they are.”

Professor Mario Caccamo

“At the Crop Science Centre we have the scientific breadth and track record to rapidly respond to one of the grand challenges of our time: growing enough nutritious food for an increasing population while reducing inputs and green house emissions.”

Crop Science Centre

Driven by impact, fuelled by excellence

University of Cambridge NEWS: Advancing collaborations in global food security research

University of Cambridge NEWS: Advancing collaborations in global food security research

Funding
Diane Saunders (JIC) discusses her wheat rust diagnosis kit with Bill Gates, Alok Sharma and Lord Sainsbury

Plant scientists gathered in Cambridge to advance collaborations in global food security research. They included scientists from the University of Cambridge’s Sainsbury Laboratory (SLCU) and Department of Plant Sciences, Lancaster University, The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) in Norwich and the John Innes Centre. With funding from Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development (DFID), these scientists are developing innovations that will increase productivity and empower farmers across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  

Founder of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation Lord Sainsbury, welcomed Bill Gates (Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Alok Sharma (International Development Secretary) and Professor Charlotte Watts (Department for International Development’s (DFID) Chief Scientific Advisor) to the SLCU to meet with the plant scientists who are working on projects supported by the three organisations. 

They heard from scientists about their latest advances in crop engineering to use biological nitrogen fixation to sustainably increase yields for small-holder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa (ENSA); the RIPE Project that is engineering crops to be more productive by improving photosynthesis; the CASS Project that is engineering metabolic pathways to enhance the yields of root and tuber crops; an in-field kit that diagnoses wheat rust strains in 48-hours (MARPLE) and epidemiological models to predict the spread of plant disease (Epidemiology and Modelling Group). 

University of Cambridge Professor and SLCU Group Leader Giles Oldroyd, who coordinates the Engineering Nitrogen Symbiosis for Africa (ENSA) project provided an update on the project’s progress and demonstrated the signalling responses that help plants form symbiotic associations with nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria. Professor Oldroyd said: “We have been working on a programme of research to engineer nitrogen-fixing cereals with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the past six years and are now getting to an exciting stage with a number of discoveries that are getting us closer to achieving this goal. The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, through the SLCU, is supporting us in researching the fundamental understandings of how plants engage with beneficial microorganisms and this is providing us with the foundations on which we can build the engineering programmes in cereal crops.” 

As part of their visit, International Development Secretary Alok Sharma announced that DFID would strengthen its ongoing partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to improve rural livelihoods and create opportunities for people living in the world’s poorest places. 

International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: “We are proud to be working alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to tackle some of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time. 

“Feeding a global population of 10 billion by 2050 is a major challenge, particularly with pests and diseases destroying up to 40% of food produced. 

“Our joint investment in cutting-edge British research will produce crops that can thrive in conditions caused by climate change. This means people in the developing world will have enough food to eat, British consumers get stable prices, and we can protect our planet by avoiding fertilisers or damaging pesticides.” 

The new £38 million of UK aid from DFID will contribute to a portfolio of projects, which will receive additional funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

ENSA Scientific Programme Manager, Christian Rogers, provided an overview of how researchers are collaborating on the ENSA, CASS and RIPE projects to the visitors

Sustainable food production for everyone

The Crop Science Centre is a coalition between the University of Cambridge, Department of Plant Sciences, and NIAB. This coalition focuses on translational research in crops with real-world impact. We combine the diverse skills and expertise of the University and NIAB, providing an environment for research excellence with the capability to apply discoveries to crop improvement in the field.

Our research is interdisciplinary and of global relevance. We strive to improve both staple crops such as maize, wheat and rice, but also the specific crops of relevance to small-holder farmers, particularly those in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Centre provides leadership in crop sciences, with a creative and dynamic research culture, motivated by improvement of agriculture for the betterment of society.

Our mission

At the Crop Science Centre, we are generating crop plants that deliver sufficient food for everyone in a sustainable way

  • We deliver agricultural impact, using excellence in research
  • We strive for sustainability, reducing agricultural reliance on chemical inputs
  • We foster equality, valuing all members of our research community
  • We believe in equity, ensuring even the world’s poorest farmers can grow enough food

Years of research has provided a deep understanding of how plants function, creating opportunities to transform the way we produce our food.  I am motivated to improve the sustainability and the equity of food production worldwide

Professor Giles Oldroyd,
CSC Director

Professor Giles Oldroyd

“At the Crop Science Centre we have the scientific breadth and track record to rapidly respond to one of the grand challenges of our time: growing enough nutritious food for an increasing population while reducing inputs and green house emissions.”

Professor Mario Caccamo,
CEO and Director of NIAB

Professor Mario Caccamo

“We envisage that new CSC crop technologies will enable higher crop yields and lower environmental impact for crop-based food production – as well as contributing to improved dietary health.”

Sir David Baulcombe,
Royal Society Professor

Sir David Baulcombe