Interim BBSRC Executive Chair appointed

Guy Poppy headshot

Professor Guy Poppy has been appointed Interim Executive Chair of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Professor Poppy, currently Deputy Executive Chair at BBSRC, will take up the role on 1 July 2023 when Professor Dame Melanie Welham steps down as Executive Chair following five years in the role.

Exceptional leadership

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said:

Melanie has provided exceptional leadership to both BBSRC and UKRI over the past five years.

Her depth of understanding of the requirements and demands of catalysing, convening and delivering world-class research and innovation have enabled BBSRC and the wider bioscience community to thrive.

Beyond that, her preeminent leadership as UKRI’s champion for people, culture and talent has been truly transformative in improving research culture across the UK.

I am deeply grateful for Melanie’s work, and I wish her every success in the future.

Professor Guy Poppy

Professor Poppy will serve as Interim Executive Chair until the appointment of a permanent replacement. An open recruitment campaign is underway.

He will continue in his role as Programme Director of the UKRI Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund alongside some responsibilities at The University of Southampton.

Professor Poppy is a graduate of Imperial College London and the University of Oxford. He worked at Rothamsted Research before joining the University of Southampton in 2001.

Guy has twice served as Associate Vice President for interdisciplinary research at Southampton and prior to this as Head of the School of Biological Sciences.

He was a member of the Research Excellence Framework (REF2014 and REF2021) panel assessing the quality of agriculture, food and veterinary science in the UK.

Professor Poppy served as the Food Standards Agency’s inaugural Chief Scientific Adviser from 2014 to 2020 and has published extensively on food systems and food security.

He was appointed Companion of the Order of Bath in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021 and made a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2022.

Interim Deputy Executive Chair

From 1 July, Dr Amanda Collis will take on the role of interim BBSRC Deputy Executive Chair.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology and BBSRC’s current Executive Director for Research Strategy and Programmes, Dr Collis studied for a degree in plant sciences and gained her PhD in fungal molecular biology before joining BBSRC in 1998.

She has broad experience in UK science policy, including time spent on secondment to the Houses of Parliament, Research Councils UK and detached duty to the British Consulate General – Boston, where she worked alongside the UK government’s Science and Innovation Network.

Dame Ottoline said:

I am delighted that UKRI will continue to benefit from Professor Poppy and Dr Collis’s experience and expertise, and I look forward to working with them at this exciting time for research and innovation in the UK.

Top image:  Credit: Academy of Medical Sciences

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