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Birthday celebrations at James Hutton Institute

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My congratulations go to Iain Gordon and his team for their achievements so far, which include truly global work on crop and potato breeding, and water systems.

Staff at the James Hutton Institute are celebrating the organisation’s first birthday. In a message of congratulations, Scotland’s First Minister, the Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, said in its short life, the James Hutton Institute had rapidly established itself as major player on the science landscape at home and abroad.

The message was among a number received by the Institute’s Chief Executive, Professor Iain Gordon. The First Minister continued: “I have for some time been supportive of the establishment of a new institute and am delighted to see it is already contributing hugely to the proud tradition and reputation of Scotland as a place for science and scientific excellence.

"My congratulations go to Iain Gordon and his team for their achievements so far, which include truly global work on crop and potato breeding, and water systems. I would also like to send my best wishes to all at the Institute for what is set to be an exciting future at the cutting edge of environmental and life sciences."

The James Hutton Institute was formed last year by the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute in Aberdeen and SCRI, the Scottish Crop Research Institute based in Invergowrie near Dundee, Scotland. The Institute encompasses a distinctive range of integrated, world-class strengths in land, crop, water, environmental and socio-economic science. It undertakes a wide range of research for customers including the Scottish and UK Governments, the EU and other organisations worldwide. The institute has a staff of nearly 600 and 125 PhD students.

Celebrations were planned for the main offices and laboratories in Aberdeen and Dundee. In other messages, Professor Anne Glover, the European Commission's Chief Scientific Advisor said: "It seems a great achievement that in one short year the James Hutton Institute is being recognised as a leader in research and thinking both nationally and internationally. This is fantastic recognition for both the leadership of the Institute and the enthusiasm and commitment of the staff."

One leading science communicator, who has a particular interest in the 18th century Scots scientist, James Hutton, is Iain Stewart, Professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth and presenter of the BBC science documentaries Men of Rock and How to Grow a Planet. He said: “Congratulations on your first year. You carry on Hutton’s wondrous curiosity about how our planet works, and his realisation that in its intricate details lies the making or breaking of our modern habitable world. Quite a responsibility, but no doubt that you’re up to the challenge.”

Notes to editors

Among the James Hutton Institute’s achievements in its first year of operations:

  • The genome of the potato was published in Nature last July. It was a global project but the UK contribution was led by the James Hutton Institute. The work was supported by the Scottish Government and the knowledge gained by this breakthrough will have far reaching benefits for potato breeding, the fight against potato diseases and pests and will boost the Scottish potato sector.
  • The UK National Ecosystem Assessment was the first in-depth analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and continuing economic prosperity. It was co-Chaired by Professor Steve Albon of the James Hutton Institute. The work by Steve and his colleagues will help the process of shaping policy on the environment for many years to come. The Scottish Government was part of the commissioning Client Group.
  • The James Hutton Institute hosts the Scottish Government’s Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW). CREW’s Director is Bob Ferrier, our Director of Research Impact. To help widen the interest in the global importance of water, we are running a year-long Scottish schools photographic competition with a winner announced each month.
  • The Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, Professor Iain Gordon, was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). The Fellowship of the Society covers science, arts, humanities, the professions, industry and commerce. Fellows are elected following a rigorous examination of their achievement in the relevant field.
  • This year the Institute will host two, international conferences which it succeeded in bringing to Dundee; one is for root systems scientists, the other is for the world blackcurrant industry. We are currently bidding to bring a world environment congress to Edinburgh in 2014. Our commercial arms have continued to build links in China, and have been pioneering new technologies for water sampling. With partners they have developed methods for tracing so-called designer drugs.
  • The James Hutton Institute is part of a successful consortium that was awarded a £7 million contract for cereals research, funded in part by the Scottish Government. The aim will be to make an important contribution to global efforts to breed improved cereal crops. The projects hope to shed further light on the genomes of wheat and barley, the two most widely grown cereal crops in the UK.
  • The Institute played a major role in establishing the Ecosystem Approach Working Group (EAWG) in Scotland. It aims to build research partnerships, knowledge exchange and collaboration within the Scottish Government’s two Research Programmes and with government agencies, NGOs and research consortia, as well as policy makers working in the areas of natural resource management and ecosystem services.
  •  The James Hutton Institute played a prominent role in this year’s global Planet Under Pressure conference which took place in London. Our session chairs include Chief Executive Professor Iain Gordon, Dr Paul Hallett and Dr Helaina Black. Helaina is the current President of the British Society of Soil Science.
  • The lavishly illustrated book Soils of the Crofts was produced complete with a foreword by HRH Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay. It was authored by several James Hutton Institute staff and presented to the Scottish Government at Holyrood. You can find it as an e-book on our website.
  • The new Institute was first proposed in a speech by the First Minister in January 2008: by the time of the launch in April 2011, teams at the legacy Institutes had restructured the science strategy, appointed a new science and support leadership and chosen the name of the new organisation through a staff competition. The branding was designed by an in-house team and integrated IT and telephony systems were running before the launch deadline.
  • The new institute supported the recent Nature of Scotland awards, organised a Scottish Agriculture and Climate Change workshop on behalf of the Scottish Government and has supported the Women in Science Festival. With the Scottish research institutes, it has been contributing to the Science on a Plate project at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.
  • Our Head of Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences (SEGS), Professor Bill Slee, was selected as one of the two academic Commissioners for Rural Education, to explore rural education and in particular the impact of school closure on rural communities. The Commission was formed by Education Minister Mike Russell MSP. Bill’s colleague, Kirsty Blackstock, was elected to the RSE Young Academy of Scotland. In all, the SEGS group had 38 peer reviewed journal articles accepted for publication between April 2011 and March 2012. This represents a 25% increase year on year.
  • In 2012 we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of our partnership with the University of Dundee’s College of Life Sciences; their Division of Plant Sciences is based at our Invergowrie site. In November last year it underwent a highly successful Quinquennial Review, chaired by Sir David Baulcombe, FRS , Royal Society Research Professor and Regius Professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge.
  • The James Hutton Institute is forging links with industry and commerce in North East Scotland. It is a member of the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce and has just announced it is to be the first large organisation to become a joint “premier” member of both the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber and the Dundee and Angus Chamber.
  • The Institute has just completed – on time and on budget – a £1.7 million refurbishment project for the Aberdeen and Dundee sites. Much of the work was to upgrade facilities on the large site at Invergowrie and included extensive road re-surfacing. (Much of the site is accessible to the local community.) There were seven laboratory refurbishments and 12 office refits. The staff restaurant in Invergowrie was also refurbished.

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Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/birthday-celebrations-james-hutton-institute on 25/05/22 06:02:11 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.