Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

Professor Achim Dobermann is appointed the New Director of Rothamsted Research

Professor Achim Dobermann

Professor Achim Dobermann is appointed the New Director of Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research is delighted to announce that Professor Achim Dobermann has been appointed as its new Director

Rothamsted Research, which receives BBSRC strategic funding, is delighted to announce that Professor Achim Dobermann has been appointed as its new Director. He will take up his post at the longest running agricultural institute in the world on 1st June 2014.

Professor Dobermann is joining Rothamsted Research from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, where he was the Deputy Director General for Research.

Professor Dobermann is a soil scientist and agronomist with 25 years’ work experience in all world regions. He is recognized internationally as an authority on science and technology for food security and sustainable management of the world’s major cereal cropping systems. After studying for a PhD in Soil Science at the Institute of Tropical Agriculture of the University of Leipzig, Professor Dobermann joined IRRI as a soil and plant nutrition specialist in 1992. His expertise and passion for the subject quickly established him as a team leader for soil and water sciences. In 2000, he joined the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska as Associate Professor and later full Professor in Soil Science and Nutrient Management. He re-joined IRRI in 2007 to lead its largest interdisciplinary research programme, focusing on developing environmentally sustainable rice-based agricultural systems. His rapid success led him to becoming Deputy Director General for Research in 2008.

Professor Dobermann has enjoyed a long and distinguished career with numerous high impact scientific publications and is currently an editor of the Global Food Security journal. He has chaired and participated in numerous international scientific committees and expert groups and is currently a member of the Leadership Council and co-chair of the Thematic Group on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN,, a new initiative for the United Nations to support the post-2015 sustainable development process.

Working at IRRI his work has had a major impact in rice growing countries of Asia and other parts of the world. During 2009-2010 he coordinated the development of a new global program for rice research, the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP, and served as their first Director.

Professor Dobermann said “I’m excited about having this unique opportunity to help making a great research institution even better. Developing environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production will be at the core of the new global sustainable development agenda.   With its top-notch science and multidisciplinary approach Rothamsted Research can play a major role in designing new solutions for enabling transformative changes in agricultural systems, nationally and internationally.”

Professor Dobermann brings with him a unique multi-disciplinary background which includes biotechnology, breeding, sustainable ecosystems management, climate change, grain quality and nutrition, postharvest technologies, precision farming technologies and social sciences, amongst other skills. He is a champion of public engagement and outreach as well demonstrating an excellent track record of establishing effective public-private partnerships, for example he led the development of the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), which includes over 200 public and private sector partners which has received more than US$100 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID.

Professor Dobermann said he was looking forward to adding to the public engagement work at Rothamsted, including “seeking out new partnerships with public and private sector organisations”.

Professor Nick Talbot, Chair of the Rothamsted Board of Directors said "We are very excited that Professor Dobermann will lead Rothamsted Research in its next stage of development.  He is an outstanding scientist and research leader, with a huge breadth of knowledge and expertise in world agriculture.  We are confident that he will enable Rothamsted Research to be at the very forefront of agri-acience.  This is a key moment when we need to develop completely new strategies to intensify agricultural production in a sustainable way. That means harnessing the full potential of crop genetics and physiology, soil science and agronomy to produce more sustainable, high yielding, agricultural systems."

Professor Dobermann is a member of American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and Crop Science Society of America (CSSA). He has authored or co-authored over 250 scientific papers and several books and has received numerous awards from various academic, government and industry organisations. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America.

Professor Jackie Hunter, BBSRC Chief Executive, welcomed the appointment and said: “Rothamsted Research has a vital role in helping BBSRC to deliver our mission and vision for British bioscience. Prof Dobermann is an inspirational scientist and leader and it is testament to the quality of research and innovation at Rothamsted and the reputation of UK agri-science that we have been able to attract a Director of such a high calibre. He brings important experience of building international collaboration and of forging partnerships with the private sector and this will help to strengthen Rothamsted’s strategy.

She added “Rothamsted’s science programmes align with BBSRC strategic priorities in agriculture and food security and industrial biotechnology and bioenergy and the institute hosts a number of BBSRC-funded national capabilities. In addition, it is embarking on an exciting new phase with the development of the Rothamsted Centre for Research and Enterprise. With this backdrop I look forward to working with Prof Dobermann as we seek to deliver impact from Rothamsted’s world-class agri-science.”

Professor Dobermann succeeds former Director and Chief Executive Professor Maurice Moloney who led Rothamsted Research between 2010 and 2013. Professor Moloney made an outstanding contribution to the Institute’s long history including the development and implementation of a significant and progressive new science strategy.

Learning from the “healthy” to protect the “infected”

A novel mechanism has been identified which likely contributes to resistance against Septoria leaf blotch in plant species normally non-infected with the disease, providing the clues necessary to develop control methods in wheat.

State of Nature report: views from Rothamsted Research

Rothamsted Research scientists comment on the 2016 State of Nature report.

Pupils take on farming challenge

Teams of school pupils pitch their ideas to reduce slug damage to crops after meeting scientists at Rothamsted Research and visiting a local farm.

Seek and you shall find: bees remain excellent searchers even when sick

Scientists have found that honeybees exhibit a characteristic flight pattern to explore their surroundings, even when affected by disease.


Rothamsted Press Office

For further information, please contact:

Dr Matina Tsalavouta (, Tel: +44 (0) 1582 938 525

About Rothamsted Research

We are the longest running agricultural research station in the world, providing cutting-edge science and innovation for over 170 years. Our mission is to deliver the knowledge and new practices to increase crop productivity and quality and to develop environmentally sustainable solutions for food and energy production.

Our strength lies in the integrated, multidisciplinary approach to research in plant, insect and soil science.

Rothamsted Research is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In 2013-2014 Rothamsted Researched received a total of £32.9M from the BBSRC.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £509M in world-class bioscience in 2014-15. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see:

For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: