The SRUC board also said that Janet Swadling – who has been acting chief executive and principal since the previous principal Bob Webb left in 2013 – would continue in that role until Professor Powell takes up his post in July, after which she would act as his deputy.
Professor Powell joins SRUC from his current role as chief science officer at CGIAR Consortium, an international research grouping that focuses on agricultural research for development in areas such as cereals, agroforestry, livestock and climate change.
Professor Powell is a world leading plant scientist with a particular focus on genetics and plant breeding. Currently based at CGIAR’s headquarters in Montpelier, France, he has extensive previous experience in the UK having been director of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge, as well as deputy director of the Scottish Crop Research Institute (now the James Hutton Institute).
Welcoming the appointment, SRUC chairman Pat Machray said Professor Powell’s strong track record in agricultural research and knowledge transfer would allow him to drive SRUC’s academic vision which included gaining degree awarding powers, and once again achieving a world-leading result in the Research Excellence Framework.
Looking forward to his tenure as principal, Professor Powell said: “Land-based research is becoming increasingly important in a world where food and nutrition security and climate change are the top challenges facing governments across the globe. I believe SRUC has a key role to play in tackling these important issues.”