Aberystwyth University

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Dr Catherine Howarth
Principal Investigator WP2

Dr Catherine Howarth leads the Cereal and Grain Legume Breeding Group at IBERS, Aberystwyth University which has an exceptional track record in translating fundamental research into agronomic performance, with IBERS bred oat varieties currently accounting for c.65% of the oats used within the UK and winter bean varieties over 50% of the market.  It has developed advanced phenotyping and genotyping methodologies for genetic improvement in collaboration with industry including BBSRC, Defra LINK, AHDB and Innovate UK funded projects that are focused on improving plant traits associated with reduced environmental impact that meet end-user requirements.  This includes research focused on improving crop yield and grain quality through an understanding of plant traits that contribute to the stability of yield formation, translating plant biology into practical field-scale screening methods and identifying superior germplasm using advanced phenotyping techniques. She has extensive experience in managing large inter-disciplinary projects focused on reducing environmental impact and modifying grain composition. Recent grants are concerned with evaluating genetic diversity for enhanced human health benefits (eg CropDiva , H2020 2021-2025, and Healthy Oats, Wales-Ireland Interreg 2021-2023), understanding the interaction of genotype and environment on grain quality (AHDB  project, 21140039, Nitrogen and sulphur fertiliser management) and working with local businesses to develop science based solutions for innovation in food products (ERFDF-WEFO funded project 81406 Future Foods).  

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Prof. John Doonan
Principal Investigator WP2

John Doonan is Professor of Genetics, IBERS at Aberystwyth University and Director of the National Plant Phenomics Centre, a BBSRC funded national facility. His research is aimed at understanding plant growth at different scales – from gene expression through to cell and organ development to the field – to understand how environment interacts with genotype to affect plant productivity. A key focus is the cellular and genetic basis of seed and grain development. John Doonan has more than 30 years experience in genetics and developmental cell biology of plants and fungi. Before joining IBERS as Director of the National Plant Phenomics Centre, he was Group Leader at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Previous to that he worked at the Robert Wood Johnston Medical School in New Jersey, USA and obtained his PhD from Leeds University.He has published over 100 refereed scientific papers with over 9000 citations and h-index of 49.