No 1 ranked UK university for agriculture, food & veterinary sciences hosts top team from UKRI

Pictured are (l-r): Prof Chris Scott, Dean of Research, School of Medicine, Dentistry & Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University; Dr Wendy McLoone, Deputy Director, Research Services, Queen’s; Prof Ciaren Graham, Deputy Head, School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s; Prof Geoff McMullan, Head of School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s; Dame Prof Ottoline Leyser, CEO, UKRI; Prof Sharon Huws, Head of Research, SBS, Queen’s; Emma Lindsell, Director of Engagement, UKRI; Paul Malcolmson, NI Engagement Mgr, Innovate UK; Prof Aaron Maule, PVC, Faculty of MHLS, Queen’s; Prof Chris Creevey, theme lead, SBS, Queen’s

The School of Biological Sciences and IGFS were delighted to host the leadership team from UKRI, the UK government agency that oversees all public investment in science research.

UKRI CEO Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser and senior colleagues visited the School and Institute this week to hear more about our research excellence – ranked No 1 in the UK in the recent REF exercise – and how it feeds into local and national science policy.

The delegation engaged closely with PhD students, early-career researchers and technicians while hearing about our research culture, student experience and areas of research expertise, from food safety and authenticity to the grand challenges around animal health, agriculture and climate change.

PhD students and post-docs discussed a wide variety of research projects, ranging from methane mitigation in agriculture to the microbiome of poison-dart frogs to anti-fungal drug tolerance. Much of this research, including four DTPs at IGFS & SBS, is supported by UKRI funding, including investment from NERC, BBSRC and Innovate UK.

Queen’s Technician Commitment Manager, Gillian Riddel, gave an update on the university’s actions to enhance visibility and career pathways for technicians, as part of the university’s signing up to the National Technician Commitment.

Prof Leyser and her team were then given a tour of the Biological Sciences building, including the state-of-the-art microbiology labs and the ASSET technology centre, where the visitors heard about testing for illegal pesticides in soya and screening animal feed for contamination.

Prof Sharon Huws, Head of Research for SBS & IGFS, who chaired the visit, said it was an important opportunity to showcase our School and Institute and how our staff and students were at the heart of our research culture.

She said: “It was wonderful to host Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser and her team and showcase our research excellence and culture, underpinned by our students and staff, with substantial funding from UKRI.

“For example, we host four of the UKRI DTPs, which provide excellent platforms for training our future leaders through cross-sector engagement and enhanced networking opportunities. We look forward to working closely with UKRI to achieve the goals within the new strategy.”

While in Belfast, Prof Leyser and her team launched the new UKRI Strategy, outlining priorities for investment over the next five years.

Included in this is a commitment to enhance team-based interdisciplinary research and ‘porosity’ within sectorial staffing structures in order to address global challenges. You can find out more about the UKRI Strategy here.

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Taken from the Queen’s University Belfast, School of Biological Sciences website. Queen’s University Belfast published this article here on 13 March 2023.

For more information, please contact Queen’s University Belfast IGFS Comms Officer Una Bradley on

Notes for Editors

PublishedMonday March 13th, 2023