NAME

RESEARCH BACKGROUND

PROF GABRIEL AMEKA, University of Ghana

Gabriel K. Ameka, obtained his PhD in Botany from the University of Ghana where he is Professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Biology (formerly Botany). He has varied research interests which include organismic biology, food security and climate change, and DNA Barcoding of Life. Current research is focused on food security and climate change, and so plant disease, detection and diagnostic is an important priority research area for me.

DR STEPHEN ASTON, One Acre Fund

Steph's research with One Acre Fund focuses on locally optimised agronomy for smallholders in the Great Lakes region. Step began his career with IITA, working on cassava, before pursuing his PhD in soil science. Before joining One Acre Fund, Step worked for Defra, managing research on sustainable intensification. 

PROF TIM BARRACLOUGH, Imperial College London

TBC

DR BOSIBORI BETT,  KALRO

My research is in the area of plant biotechnology and molecular biology. Research on improving cowpea for pest resistance using genetic engineering approaches where a Bt gene encoding toxin to Maruca vitrata was identified for subsequent transformation into cowpea.  I currently lead a team on distribution of clean planting material to smallholder farmers, and offer regulatory support to projects at KALRO.

DR TOLGA BOZKURT, Imperial College London

I work on understanding how oomycete and fungal plant pathogens modulate plant processes at the host interface. My group focuses on dissecting the molecular mechanisms underlying plant immunity and the role of plant intracellular transport system in this process. We aim to characterize the host processes required for accommodation of filamentous pathogens inside the plant cells and identify perturbations caused by the pathogens

MR ALEX CAMUTO, Imperial College London

TBC

PROF TONY CASS, Imperial College London

Tony’s research is focused on using analytical science to solve problems in animal, human and environmental health especially through creating devices that perform the analysis at point of decision. Currently his research includes microneedle sensors, penside avian influenza diagnostics, and well-side determination of arsenic(III) in drinking water. To realise these devices his research uses a combination of biomolecular engineering of proteins and nucleic acids, low cost production of electrochemical sensors and performance enhancement through the use of nanomaterials

DR DANNY COYNE, IITA

Danny Coyne has worked in tropical agriculture since 1989, at the rural, national and international research institute level. He has in depth experience of the important tropical food crops and cropping systems in Africa. Specialized in plant nematology, he has lately broadened into the wider field of soil health.

DR ROGER DAY, CABI

35 years’ experience in research, development and capacity building in tropical agriculture, focusing on crop protection, invasive species, biosecurity, and sanitary and phytosanitary systems. >20 years based at CABI’s Regional Office in Nairobi. Interested in the processes by which research results contribute to development outcomes.

DR CHRIS DUNSBY, Imperial College London

Chris’ research is in the field of biomedical optics and includes the development and application of quantitative fluorescence-based sensing and imaging techniques, including fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM). The groups’ FLIM instrumentation has been applied to study protein-protein interactions in cells, to studies of tissue autofluorescence – including in clinical trials – and to measurements of plant autofluorescence. 

PROF JOSHUA EDEL, Imperial College London

Prof. Joshua is currently a Professor in the Department of Chemistry from 2011 onwards. Research activities within the Edel group runs at the interface between chemistry, chemical biology, physics, and medicine in order to improve and develop new classes of sensors. Expertise includes an array of techniques and methods such as micro and nanofabrication, material processing, surface modification chemistries, semiconductor processing and characterization techniques, confocal microscopy, plasmonics, surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy, and single molecule techniques using both optical and electrical methods.

DR JULIE FLOOD, CABI

 Dr Julie Flood is Global Director for Trade & Commodities in CABI. Her main areas of research has been vascular wilt disease of oil palm, cocoa and coffee, Ganoderma diseases of oil palm and Phytophthora diseases of cocoa and coconut.She was President of the British Society for Plant Pathology in 2016. She has over 120 publications and has edited three books.

PROF PAUL FRENCH, Imperial College London

Paul French's research has evolved from ultrafast dye and solid-state laser physics to biomedical optics with a particular emphasis on FLIM for applications in molecular cell biology, drug discovery and clinical diagnosis. His current portfolio (with Chris Dunsby) includes the development and application of multidimensional flouresence imaging technology for microscopy, automatic high content analysis, endoscopy and tomography with a particular emphasis on flourescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) and open source applications to image data acquisition and analysis. 

DR FIRAT DER, Imperial College London

With a first degree in computer engineering and a PhD in materials, Dr Güder has recently moved to Imperial College from Harvard University, Department of Chemistry where he worked with Prof. Whitesides on the development of new paper-based technologies. With the vision of translating technologies from lab to field, the Güder research group currently focuses on developing new tools for use in agricultural and food sciences including new sensor platforms for monitoring plants and animals, disease diagnostics and spoilage detection. 

DR ANDREW KIGGUNDU, NARO

Andrew Kiggundu is a senior research officer at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Uganda. He is the leader of the Biodiversity and Biotechnology Programme whose core functions are plant genetic resource conservation, biological control and development of biotechnology tools for phylogenetics, crop breeding and disease diagnostics for important crop plants in Uganda. He holds a PhD. in plant biotechnology from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

DR LAVA KUMAR, IITA

Lava Kumar is the Head of the Germplasm Heath/Virologist at IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria. His R4D program is focused on finding solutions to control plant virus diseases affecting food staples, including development and application of conventional and modern diagnostics, and integration of ICT tools for disease diagnosis, surveillance and seed quality management in sub-Saharan Africa. He obtained his MSc and PhD in Virology from SV University, Tirupati, India. For the past 20 years, he has been actively involved in international AR4D in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Dr Kumar is interested in multidisciplinary approaches for plant health management.  

DR JAMES LEGG, IITA

James Legg is a principal scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, with 25 years’ experience of working on plant viruses and their insect vectors. Most of James’ professional career has focused on strengthening understanding of cassava viruses/vectors, and using that improved understanding to develop and facilitate the promotion of control strategies.

DR STEFAN LEUTENEGGER, Imperial College London

Stefan Leutenegger is a Lecturer in the Dyson Robotics Lab, co-leading it with Andrew Davison. His research is centred around autonomous robot navigation: robots need dedicated sensing capabilities as well as algorithms for localisation inside a potentially unknown environment.  He has received a BSc and MSc in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zurich in 2006, 2008, respectively, and a PhD in 2014, working at the Autonomous Systems Lab of ETH Zurich on Unmanned Solar Airplanes: Design and Algorithms for Efficient and Robust Autonomous Operation. 

DR GEORGE MAHUKU, IITA

George Mahuku, Senior Plant Pathologist, IITA, has over 20 years of research and development experience, mostly in CGIAR.  His research focuses on developing management strategies for critical diseases in banana, cereals and legumes in Africa; developing pathogen diagnostic tools; monitoring and surveillance for new and emerging disease threats and implementing pre-emptive disease management strategies. He has authored more than 60 publications.

PROF DOUGLAS MIANO, University of Nairobi

Dr. Miano is a plant pathologist specializing in plant virology and biotechnology. His research involves identification, diagnostics, characterization and management of viruses in cassava, maize and sweet potato. He has wide experience in biosafety regulations of genetically modified crops. His interests also include pest risk assessment and disease forecasting. 

DR JOSEPH MULEMA, CABI

Joseph has worked on a number of pathosystems involving both fungi and bacteria to understand resistance and pathogenicity. He has a particular interest in understanding the effect of climate change and changing farming systems in Africa on the evolution of pathogens and developing sustainable means of detection and management. In recent years, Jospeh has been involved in strengthening plant heath systems in Uganda and Zambia through CABI's Plantwise Initiative. 

PROF HENRY MUTEMBEI, Director, University of Nairobi

Prof. Henry Mutembei is the Director Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies. Prior to joining the Institute, Henry maintained a strong path of vibrant research and teaching careers with wealth of experience in leadership, mentorship and management of human resource. Henry graduated with bachelor s degree of veterinary medicine and masters in clinical studies from University of Nairobi. He is a Suma Cum Laude doctorate graduate from Giessen University, Germany. Henry has a blended experience across disciplines, published over 40 papers in refereed journals, supervised over 20 students (Msc & PhD) and established successful collaborations with local and international institutions. Henry has been the PI and spearheaded disaster management projects for the last ten years. Whenever called to duty, he brings on board proven skills that would attract project funds, mentor human resource and produce publications.

MR GEORGE NGUNDO, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS)

George is currently an inspector and the lab manager at the Plant Quarantine and Bio-security Station. He is trained in plant pathology and has experience in certification, plant variety registration, Phytosanitary inspection and plant disease diagnosis. George is interested in development and implementation of effective diagnostic protocols especially for quarantine pathogens of interest to the country. 

ASSOC. PROF EDWARD NGUU,  University of Nairobi

Heavy metal pollution impacts on omega-3 PUFA accumulation in fish due to loss of phytoplankton biodiversity in the aquatic food web.  Understanding the effect of heavy metal pollution on phytoplankton diversity, richness and effect on PUFA levels in commercial fish in Lake Victoria is of importance since fish forms an important source of omega-3 for human nutrition.

MS ELIZABETH NOBLE, Imperial College London

I am working in the Photonics Group, Physics Department, at Imperial College London to apply fluorescence imaging techniques to investigate agrochemical uptake and distribution patterns in plants and developing a practical in-vivo imaging/measurement technique for the mapping the response to agrochemicals including herbicides. These techniques have the potential to be extended as screening tools to pick up early herbicide responses and monitor them over the course of time.

DR RICHARD ODUOR, Kenyatta University

Richard is a molecular Biologist whose current research focuses on using modern biotechnologies including genetic engineering to improve local staple food crops such as maize, sweetpotato, cassava and sorghum to overcome both biotic and abiotic constraints. He is the National Chair of Kenya University Biotechnology Consortium and serves as a Senior Lecturer and Head of Plant Transformation Laboratory in Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.

DR MARIAN DORCUS QUAIN, CSIR- Crops Research Institute

TBC

PROF ALESSANDRA RUSSO, Imperial College London

TBC

PROF VINCENT SAVOLAINEN, Imperial College London

I combine molecular phylogenetic techniques, comparative analyses, population genomics, and intensive fieldwork to help explain the origin of biodiversity and, where possible, find solutions for its preservation in a rapidly changing world. Also, with funding from the Royal Society and the South African NRF for capacity building, 197 students and members of staff received training in ecological genetics, which led to the creation of the African Centre for DNA Barcoding (ACDB) at the University of Johannesburg.

PROF IRENEE SOMDA, Université polytechnique de Bobo-Dioulasso

TBC

PROF PIETRO SPANU, Imperial College London

My main research interest are the interactions between plants and microbes with a particular focus on plant diseases. In practice, we use molecular biology and genomic tools available to understand the mechanisms pathogenic fungi use to subvert the host plant immunity and establish infection

DR PHIL SWARBRICK, CABI

As part of CABI’s Project Development Group, I work with scientists and senior staff to develop grant proposals for our international development projects.  Prior to working at CABI, I worked as a research scientist on projects involving coconut ‘lethal yellowing’ disease, the parasitic plant Striga and powdery mildew of barley.

DR LEENA TRIPATHI, IITA

Leena Tripathi Principal scientist leading the plant transgenic research at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) based at BecA/ ILRI hub, Nairobi, Kenya.  Her primary research focuses on genetic improvement of banana, cassava, enset and yam for disease and pest resistance to enhance production, which will lead the food security, income and well-being of resource-poor farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. 

DR COLIN TURNBULL, Imperial College London

Colin Turnbull is a Reader in Molecular Plant Physiology, focussing on signals in defence and development. Current projects include improving post-harvest storage life in potato; regulation of flowering for beneficial manipulations in agricultural contexts and its role in speciation; and hte molecular basis of virulence-resistance relationships in insect-plant interactions.

PROF GEOFFREY TUSIIME, Makerere University

My research interest is in crop disease management with specific interest in pathogen identification, diagnosis, variability and distribution. With other research teams, I have contributed towards developing management packages for diseases of tropical perennial and annual crops. My research has mainly focused on banana, potato, beans, hot pepper and cassava.   

DR CHRIS WILSON, Imperial College London

I am an evolutionary ecologist investigating the role of genetic diversity in parasite-host interactions, using lab and field-based empirical approaches.  I work with fungal and bacterial antagonists of microscopic soil invertebrates, and have a recent interest in fungal biocontrol of plant pathogenic root-knot nematodes, especially asexual species such as Meloidogyne incognita

DR OLIVER WINDRAM, Imperial College London

Oliver’s research involves generation and interpretation of large scale omics data using network modelling techniques. His research focuses on taking this novel systems biology-based data and using it to generate novel organism phenotypes through synthetic biology approaches. These phenotypes involve the generation of organisms useful for agriculture and other industries such as crop plants with enhanced defence capabilities and organisms capable of producing useful chemicals and proteins.

DR RUDIGER WOSCHOLSKI, Imperial College London

Dr Rudiger Woscholski’s research interests are focussed on employing chemical biology approaches to answer questions in lipid dependent signalling. In particular, lipid phosphatases and kinases are the main targets to generate suitable chemical tools that can be used to probe and quantify these targets and their regulators. Since 2006 this work involved the use of synthetic as well as physical chemistry to generate new tools and techniques, respectively, to probe and disturb cellular signalling. Since 2011, Rudiger has engaged plant scientists in academia and industry to port the achievements generated in chemical biology towards the plant sciences.