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Professor Ian Toth recognised with British Potato Industry Award 2020

Prof Ian Toth, British Potato Industry Award 2020 winner
"It is a big honour for me to receive this award and I am humbled by the recognition by an industry where everyone works extremely hard and all deserve an award. So too to the other scientists that strive to make a difference to the industry"

Professor Ian Toth has been recognised with the British Potato Industry Award 2020 for his invaluable contribution to the potato industry over the past 25 years. The prestigious lifetime achievement award was presented by AHDB Potatoes Chair, Alison Levett, as part of the Potato Industry Conference 2020 which was delivered via a virtual event held on 24th November.

Professor Toth is a senior scientist and the Director of Scotland’s Plant Heath Centre at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee, where he has been undertaking plant health research for over 25 years, focusing his efforts on both strategic and applied research. This has brought him into regular contact with UK and devolved governments, the public and industry to whom he regularly presents his work.

He also discusses potential solutions to pests and pathogens, particularly in regard to potato blackleg disease. Professor Toth continues to be a cornerstone and leader of the internationally recognised plant health work at the James Hutton Institute and is a globally recognised potato bacterial disease expert.

Presenting the award, Alison Levett said: “Mention the phrase potato disease and Ian Toth’s name quickly comes into the discussion. Ian was trained under Michel Pérombelon at the Scottish Crop Research Institute but quickly became the “go-to-person” in the potato industry for all things blackleg and soft rot related and has more recently been working with the industry on a long-term strategy to control PCN.

“Through a series of rigorous scientific studies and an innate ability to collaborate, particularly with industry, Ian became the Head of the Weeds, Pests and Pathogens theme at the James Hutton Institute. In this position he was responsible for delivering solutions for controlling blackleg throughout the potato supply chain and extending this knowledge into other potato bacterial diseases. His position at the interface of the science and industry sectors has recently been recognised by the award of Director of Scotland’s Plant Health Centre of Expertise. This centre is funded by the Scottish government to help co-ordinate plant health knowledge, skills, needs and activities in Scotland including at the industry-academia interface. He was recently awarded £2M by BBSRC, NERC, Defra and Scottish Government to lead a Bacteria Diseases Initiative grant on blackleg, the most damaging bacterial plant pathogen in the UK.

“Professor Ian Toth’s prominent position in potato disease is unrivalled in the UK academic-industry interface and I am delighted that he is the recipient of this year’s award.”

He obtained his PhD from Warwick University in 1991 on potato blackleg disease and has since worked on plant diseases in agriculture, forestry and horticulture, as well as with soil microbes and microbial biotechnology, the latter with Novo Nordisk in Denmark. Professor Toth is also an honorary Professor at the Forestry and Agriculture Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. 

Upon receiving the award, Prof Toth commented: "It is a big honour for me to receive this award and I am humbled by the recognition by an industry where everyone works extremely hard and all deserve an award. So too to the other scientists that strive to make a difference to the industry.

"During my scientific career I have met many people from the potato industry, some of which I am lucky enough to know well. They have taught me a lot about the business, which helps greatly when developing experiments to ensure they are as relevant as possible to the industry.

"Like any science, results often come by increments and the more we communicate together the biggest difference we will make. We still have lots of work to do but I am optimistic about the future. If I were advising people just starting out on their scientific career I would say, if you want to make the biggest difference, meet the people who will benefit most right from the start and understand their needs to help inform your research."

For more information on his research visit Prof Toth's Hutton staff page.

Farmer Andrew Francis, from Elveden Farms, received the Above and Beyond Award while Margaret (Mags) Skinner was recognised with the Dr James Hardie Award by the Pre Basic Growers Association. For more details about the British Potato Industry Award 2020, see AHDB's press release.

Press and media enquiries: 

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

Printed from /news/professor-ian-toth-recognised-british-potato-industry-award-2020 on 20/04/24 10:46:28 AM

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.