BBSRC Executive Chair's blog

News from our Chief Executive, Professor Melanie Welham

Professor Melanie Welham
  • A look ahead for 2018

    Melanie Welham

    It is customary, close to the beginning of each New Year, to consider what the year ahead might hold, so my first blog of the year sets out some of my thoughts and predictions.

    For 2018, I anticipate we will see an increasing emphasis on discovery research. The importance of researcher-led discovery science is something which I have often heard members of our research community speak passionately about – and is something which I am a fervent supporter of too. Through BBSRC’s ‘Frontier Bioscience’ theme we have highlighted our commitment and support for discovery research – and I hope this will become increasingly apparent throughout the coming year.

  • Inspiration or imposter: coming to terms with how you are viewed by others

    Melanie Welham

    Throughout my career as a research scientist, wife and mother, and now as CE of BBSRC, I have always tried to be a positive role model. In doing so I did not set out with the intent of being seen as an inspiration to others, and I have to admit that the thought that I might be viewed in this way makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. Yet recently, a series of seemingly unrelated events and conversations have led me to reflect on this.

  • International collaboration, diversity and green tea chocolate

    Melanie Welham

    I was fortunate to travel to Japan recently, first to Kyoto to attend the 14th Science and Technology in Society forum (STS forum) and then on to Tokyo for a series of visits and meetings.

    A key focus on the trip were a series of bi-lateral meetings with funding agencies (from around the globe) which Sir Mark Walport and I attended together. These meetings provided the opportunity to update colleagues on progress towards UK Research and Innovation and also emphasise the importance of international collaboration in maintaining excellence in research and innovation.

  • Envisioning Harvest 2050 and Beyond

    Melanie Welham
    Scientist working in the field
    Copyright: Rothamsted Research

    On Friday 22 September 2017 the UK officially bid farewell to summer and welcomed in the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ – epitomised by Keats in his poem ‘Ode to Autumn’. The arrival of the new season is signalled by changes in the environment around us – chlorophyll breaking down to reveal the gold and red hues we associate with autumn. And so, with thoughts of harvest in the air, the recent completion of the Hands Free Hectare caught my attention.  This project, a collaboration between Harper Adams University and Precision Decisions, is the first ever in the world to plant, tend and harvest a crop via autonomous vehicles and drones. It provides a glimpse of how innovative technology can transform current approaches to agriculture, including harvesting, and stimulates thoughts on what our food production systems might look like in 2050.