Professor Jackie Hunter's blog

News from our Chief Executive

  • Scotland, schools and dialogue

    Jackie Hunter

    I had a very enjoyable visit North of the Border last week. This was primarily to visit The Roslin Institute but I also met with scientists from Scotland’s Rural Collage (SRUC) and the Moredun Research Institute. The Easter Bush campus, home to these institutions and others is clearly an exciting place to be and the quality of the science I saw was excellent – too much to single out examples! The design of the Roslin building was particularly interesting and a good example of how architecture can make a big difference, in a positive way, to the research environment. [...]

  • The importance of panels and committees

    Jackie Hunter

    I was very pleased to welcome our new council members to Swindon two weeks ago as part of the BBSRC induction process. I and the Executive team met with them to discuss our expectations of Council members and to answer any questions that they had – they also had some good suggestions for us in terms how Council itself could work. We are very grateful to people from the BBSRC community who carry out important work for BBSRC – not only as Council members but also as members of panels and Boards and our peer reviewers. I realise that for many people this can seem like a potential distraction from the day job but this is far from the truth. In interacting with others on panels and Boards, for example, you can become much better connected within the community and gain a greater understanding of the broader issues that we face as well as the more detailed specific scientific challenges. So I would urge you to contribute in this way whether it is for BBSRC or one of the other Research Councils. I am certain that had I not sat on Strategy Board and Council as well as many panels and committees, my eligibility for my current role would have been severely curtailed! [...]

  • Open innovation and bioscience

    Jackie Hunter

    Before the Easter weekend, I felt very privileged to be asked to lay the foundation stone for the new Open Innovation Hub at Rothamsted Research last week – a significant milestone in the development at Rothamsted of a UK Research and Innovation Campus. It gave me an opportunity to talk about open innovation and the benefits an open innovation approach can bring to both industry and academia. Open innovation is an approach that I strongly believe can accelerate the translation of research into application and unlock solutions to otherwise seemingly unsolvable problems. I championed the approach in my previous roles in the pharmaceutical sector and ran my own business that sought to harness the power of open innovation before joining BBSRC. [...]

  • Practical school science is vital

    Jackie Hunter

    Last week I was very disappointed to learn that Ofqual had recommended the downgrading of practicals in the new A and AS level syllabus.

    The reasons given for this were primarily that:

    • Predictable assessments have led to narrow teaching, students getting similar results and assessments that don’t give exam boards evidence
    • Marks that don’t reflect students’ overall ability

    I don’t feel that the reforms are the way to address these problems. Predictable assessments, a lack of differentiation of students and the marking of tests should be better addressed by redesigning the practicals rather than removing their contribution to the final grade. [...]

  • York for plant science, London for badgers and BBSRC’s birthday

    Jackie Hunter

    Last week I went to York and had a very interesting time at the UK PlantSci 2014 conference. As well as some excellent talks by students and post-docs (for example the potential of the Bambara groundnut), the discussion on plant science in the late afternoon on Monday was particularly enlightening. The panel discussion followed a brief presentation summarising the recommendations of the report on UK plant science (PDF) published by the UK Plant Sciences Federation. [...]