Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

Previous employment

Department of Applied Biology, University of Helsinki, Finland

Visiting Scientist  06.08.2005 – 31.01.2007

School of Applied Sciences, University of Wolverhampton, UK

Professor of Crop Improvement  01.08.2004 – 01.08.2005

Reader  04.01.2001 – 31.07.2004

Plant Breeding Institute, The University of Sydney and the Quality Wheat CRC Ltd, Australia

Senior Research Fellow  01.09.1998 – 01.01.2001

Research Fellow  01.07.1995 – 01.09.1998

Plant Breeding Institute, The University of Sydney, Australia

Research Fellow  01.01.1992 –30.06.1995

Department of Plant Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Australia

Research Fellow  01.05.1988 – 31.12.1991

Research Associate 05.12.1985 – 30.04.1988

Education and training

University of Cambridge and Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, UK  1981-1985

PhD, 08.06.1985

Project: Fertilisation in Vicia faba L. in relation to breeding objectives

Scholarships: Imperial Oil (Canada) Graduate Research Fellowship; St. John’s College (Cambridge) Benefactor’s Studentship

University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada 1978-1981

MSc (Biology), 25.05.1981

Scholarship: Centennial Science Scholarship, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada 1974-1978

BSc (First Class Honours in Biology), 1978; University Medal in Science 1978

Description of research and teaching

My research focuses on faba bean (Vicia faba) but also touches on legume crops. I have projects on genomics, genetics and breeding, sustainability and crop quality for food and feed.

Europe suffers from a huge deficit in plant protein: 70% of its supplementary plant protein needs are imported, mostly soya bean from North and South America, and mostly to feed pigs and chickens. At the same time, its rotations are too narrowly based on the high-yielding small-grain cereals, particularly wheat and barley, so soil-borne diseases may become endemic. Furthermore, European agriculture relies heavily on inputs of nitrogen from fertilizer and, to a lesser extent, manure, with impacts on greenhouse gas releases and nitrate leaching. Many of these difficulties, and others, can be at least partially resolved by increased usage of grain legumes that fix their own nitrogen, provide high-protein seeds for food and feed use, leave at least some nitrogen-rich residue for following crops, and break the cycles of soil-borne diseases of cereals while promoting the growth of beneficial soil micro-organisms. 

Yields of legumes lag behind those of the cereals, as do their stress resistances, largely due to a relative lack of breeding effort for the past 2-3 decades. In order for European legume yields and yield stability to improve, and to withstand the increased stresses expected from climate change, new sources of stress resistance, yield and quality need urgently to be identified for the major grain legume crops. The new traits then need to be transferred into agronomically viable cultivars by developing rapid, omics-supported methods. We had a successful project using the Focused Identification of Germplasm Strategy, in collaboration with ICARDA, to identify potential sources of drought tolerance in faba bean. Subsequent work has identified sources of tolerance to rootzone acidity.

Further application of these sources of stress resistance will be accelerated by the development of tools for rapid breeding based on knowledge of the genome of the crop. We have had a project from the Academy of Finland, 'Papugeno', aimed at sequencing the gene space of faba bean and this has led to partnership in a consortium that is sequencing the whole genome and assembling it (2020). The current ERANET SusCrop project 'ProFaba' aims to link genotyping with the phenotyping for many of these stress- and productivity-related responses, thus moving towards the provision of genomic tools for breeding.

Our other ERANET SusCrop project, LegumeGap, focuses on the adaptation of faba bean and soybean to different parts of Europe and how the reliability of yield can be improved. H2020 project Legumes Translated develops communication channels among farmers, processors and consumers in order to improve the market situation for legume crops.

Crop quality is also important, and I enjoy working with colleagues in the feed and food sciences, here and abroad, on aspects of grain legume quality. Our cooperation has led to advances in processing of grain legume flours and protein isolates that can enable the production of new foods.

My teaching in the department relates to these research themes and I contribute to several courses on crop science and crop quality. In addition, I run several of the department's service courses for international and master's-level students, including (together with colleagues) the course on scientific writing.

Education/Academic qualification

Plant Breeding, PhD, Fertilisation in Vicia faba L. in relation to breeding objectives , University of Cambridge

Award Date: 8 Jun 1985

Biology, MSc, Correlative effects of stock and scion organs on the developmental anatomy of the graft union in Coleus, University of Ottawa

Award Date: 28 May 1981

Biology, BSc (First Class Honours), Development of the graft union in pea roots, Carleton Univ, Carleton University, Dept Biol

Award Date: 29 Jun 1978

Fields of Science

  • 4111 Agronomy
  • Legumes
  • Sustainability
  • Rotations
  • Protein crops
  • Faba bean
  • Lentil
  • Lupin
  • Pea
  • Wheat
  • Crop mixtures
  • 414 Agricultural biotechnology
  • Drought
  • Waterlogging
  • Heat stress
  • Faba bean
  • Genomics
  • Abiotic stress
  • Biotic stress
  • 416 Food Science
  • Starch
  • Crop quality
  • Protein
  • Plant proteins
  • bioactive compounds
  • 415 Other agricultural sciences
  • Plant breeding

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.