The Executive Group is made up of Network Directors Professor Gary Foster (University of Bristol) and Professor Neil Boonham (Newcastle University) and Network Managers Dr Diane Hird and Dr Nina Ockendon-Powell (University of Bristol).
The Executive Group designs and plans CONNECTED programme activities, performs sifting, shortlisting and reviewing of competitions/calls for applications, and develops key programme documentation and publications. Executive Group outputs are reviewed and approved by the Management Board.
Prof. Gary Foster (Director)
Professor Gary Foster is a leading Professor of Molecular Plant Pathology at the University of Bristol, UK. He 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. Twitter: @Prof_GD_Foster
Prof. Neil Boonham (Director)
Professor Neil Boonham is a molecular plant pathologist at the Institute for Agrifood Research Innovations (IAFRI) at University of Newcastle, UK.
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.
To contact any member of the team please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Diane Hird, Network Manager
Diane is a plant molecular biologist by training. In her previous role she established and ran the editorial office of the scientific journal Molecular Plant Pathology. She has extensive experience of scholarly publishing and has built up a large international network of scientists. In 2012 Diane carried out an audit of plant pathology teaching and training in the UK for the British Society for Plant Pathology and has been involved in several plant pathology science communication and outreach events.
Dr Nina Ockendon-Powell, Network Manager
Nina trained in cellular and molecular biology and gained her PhD in comparative transcriptomics. She brings significant research project management experience to the CONNECTED Network Team. In recent years she project managed an international research collaboration at Public Health England, coordinating research activities across England, Sweden, France, and Estonia. Her most recent role at BBSRC saw her lead the delivery process of the 2016 Institute Assessment Exercise, which granted over £300M to BBSRC’s Strategic Institutes for tackling global challenges in bioscience.
Soňa Reale, Executive Assistant
Soňa has gained administrative experience working in a variety of sectors, for example financial services, and the NHS, and she has worked in higher education for several years.
Heather Child, Senior Communications Officer
Heather has over 15 years’ experience in marketing and communications, mainly in the non-profit sector. She has worked as a freelance consultant, and has run communications campaigns for a large health and social care charity and a global sustainability NGO.
Bridget ‘Bee’ Scoular