Tag: institutes

  • Development and growth at the Institutes

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    BBSRC provides strategic funding to eight institutes that have long-term research programmes and national capabilities that underpin important sectors of the UK economy – including agriculture, food and drink and pharmaceuticals. Last week I had a very productive visit to one of the institutes – IBERS which is part of Aberystwyth University. As well as getting a review of the Institute Strategic Programmes that we fund there, I also spoke to a number of researchers in areas as diverse as ruminant microbiota and biofuels. I hadn’t realised that the Institute was so heavily involved in teaching undergraduates as well as postgraduates and was pleased to see how successfully integrated it has become with the University. I was extremely impressed with the National Plant Phenomics Centre and its capacity for automated imaging and measurement of a range of different plant sizes. The ability to measure both below and above ground phenotypes is impressive. The Institute is also home to the Beacon Biorefining Centre of Excellence which is a partnership between Aberystwyth, Bangor and Swansea Universities. [...]

  • The benefits of a diverse approach

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    This week has been both busy and interesting with my first Council meeting as Chief Executive. At the start of the week I had the pleasure of meeting the finalists in the Biotechnology and Environmental Young Entrepreneur Scheme and hearing some of them give their pitches. The questioning by the panels was really tough and certainly equal to, or greater than, any grilling by venture capital firms in the real world.

    I was also really encouraged by the diversity of the teams, which represents progress in comparison to the statistics reported on diversity within universities published by HESA earlier in the year. Approximately 20% of all professors are female, across all disciplines, although they make up over 40% of all academic staff and with the figures also showing less diversity in terms of ethnicity. I believe the issue of diversity is of great importance; most recently this meant giving a talk to the BBSRC Human Resources (HR) Network, made up of HR professionals from a number of BBSRC strategically funded institutes, on the importance of diversity. This opportunity also allowed me to find out what the institutes were doing to progress Athena SWAN accreditation. [...]

  • “Science isn’t finished until it is communicated”

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    Recently I came across an interesting quote from Sir Mark Walport, the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser. It was “science isn’t finished until it is communicated” delivered as part of a speech on climate change at a meeting in Cambridge. As scientists, we do have a duty to not only report our research to other scientists (to funders, the scientific community) but also to communicate relevant scientific findings to both the public and policy makers. How the information is conveyed will need to be contextualised in a way that is meaningful to the intended audience and this can sometimes be difficult. For example, my family frequently tell me that I go into too much detail and overcomplicate things when I am trying to explain some interesting science to them (and they are an engineer and an economist!). An informed society will be able to make more considered choices and be more readily able to engage in future public debates about science and its application and to take full advantage of what scientific advances are making possible. [...]

  • Value, impact and a misfiring laptop…

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    Last week was extremely busy and varied, starting in Swindon and ending in Manchester. The recurrent themes for the week were value and impact. I attended a meeting of the Foundation for Science and Technology which discussed how best to maximize the value of UK strengths in research, innovation and higher education. There were some interesting perspectives put forward by the speakers including the continued need for cultural change, including an increase in risk taking,  in both academia and industry to realize the UK’s true potential; the fact that British companies have adapted to the changing business environment but not actually changed their modus operandi and really driven innovation; how the impact agenda including schemes from ourselves and other research councils has begun to drive people thinking about the broader outcomes of research not just in economic terms, and good examples of academia-industry interactions such as the National Structural Integrity Research Centre were mentioned. [...]

  • How could we harness the power of BBSRC’s global alumni network?

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    Last Friday I was St George’s Hospital Medical School where I had held a Wellcome post-doctoral research fellowship in the 1980s and now hold a Personal Chair in Life Sciences Innovation. The building and labs have changed out of all recognition since I was there but it was very interesting to go back and see the changes at first hand. This got me thinking about Alumni in general and BBSRC Alumni in particular. [...]