The Network is managed by an Executive Group working with a Management Board.
The Executive Group is made up of Network Director Professor Gary Foster (University of Bristol), Network Deputy Director Professor Neil Boonham (Newcastle University and Fera Science Ltd) and Network Managers Dr Diane Hird and Dr Nina Ockendon-Powell (University of Bristol).
The Management Board is made up of 19 scientific and agricultural experts with a wide range of expertise relating to vector-borne disease. Full list here.
Management Board terms of reference
- To advise and monitor the Executive Group and safeguard the interests of the Network
- To shape Network strategy and advise on Network scope
- To receive reports on progress towards the Network’s aims and objectives
- Evaluate and allocate Network member applications for pump-prime funding and training funds
Prof. Gary Foster (Director)
Professor Gary Foster is a leading Professor of Molecular Plant Pathology, and has authored over 100 scientific papers, reviews and books. He established the international multidisciplinary journal Molecular Plant Pathology and served as its Editor-in Chief from 2000 – 2012.
His research is focused on a range of interconnecting themes that include plant virology, plant pathology, plant molecular biology, molecular mycology and biotechnology.
He has delivered highly applied work internationally, such as identification and test development work for viruses that cause Cassava brown streak disease, one of the most devastating plant diseases for smallholders in East and Central Africa. His cassava research was highlighted as a major breakthrough by the UK government. He has also been involved in the production of guidelines for international safe movement of vegetative germplasm, relevant to root and tuber crops
He has served as President of the British Society for Plant Pathology and on a range of BBSRC Committees and Network Groups. Additional roles have included Panel Member and Chair of a wide range of international funding bodies and agencies, including Member & Chair of a subgroup of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV), and GM adviser to the Food Standards Agency, UK. These roles have afforded him an excellent overview of the research landscape, policy needs, biotechnology opportunities and constraints, as well as supporting him to develop first-rate networks.
Prof. Neil Boonham (Co-Director)
Professor Neil Boonham is a molecular plant pathologist with a joint appointment at the Institute for Agrifood Research Innovations (IAFRI) at University of Newcastle and Fera Science Ltd, York. He heads up the detection and surveillance technologies team at Fera Science.
In recent years he has specialised in the development of novel methods and approaches for the detection of pathogens and the identification of pests. He has a particular interest in the development and deployment of field tests as well as the development of highly parallel laboratory diagnostic techniques, based on microarrays and next generation sequencing.
His plant pathology research group works on the application of post-genomic technologies to provide solutions to detection, identification and diagnosis of plant diseases. This includes work in Sub-Saharan Africa on cassava brown streak, cassava mosaic disease, maize lethal necrosis and sweet potato viruses.