Expertise ranging from novel forage crops to sustainable livestock farming earned awards for two Rothamsted researchers at last week's British Society of Animal Science meeting.

  • 19
  • APR
  • 2018

Accolades that acknowledge expertise in animal science have come to two colleagues at Rothamsted Research whose experiences range from senior management and development of sustainable livestock farming systems to PhD investigations of novel forage crops.

Michael Lee, Head of Sustainable Agriculture Sciences at Rothamsted’s North Wyke Farm Platform in Devon, has been elected Vice President of the British Society of Animal Science. The appointment means that Lee becomes the society’s President in 2021.

“It is a great honour to be elected as Vice President for a society I hold most dear,” says Lee, who is also Professor of Sustainable Livestock Systems at Bristol Veterinary School. The announcement was made at last week’s BSAS Annual Conference, which was staged in Dublin this year.

Lee adds: “I look forward to working with the current President, Helen Miller, and Senior Vice President, Eileen Wall, in positioning the society to support sustainable livestock production research and in tackling the growing threats that face our livestock farming community.”

The other award went to Achilleas Christou, a PhD student at North Wyke and the University of Bristol, who won a President’s Prize for a highly commended presentation about his work at the society’s annual conference in Chester last year; he also made another presentation this year.

“BSAS is a great organisation that provides early career scientists with the opportunity to present their work to relevant audiences,” says Christou. “I am so pleased to receive the award. Doing research in agriculture is exciting and such recognition makes it all the more rewarding.”

He adds: “I would like to thank all my supervisors as well as Alltech [an American producer of yeast additives and feed] which gave me the opportunity and funding to work on this project.”

BSAS awards Credit: David Wilde/BSASBSAS winners: Helen Warren, industry backer; Achilleas Christou, PhD student; Michael Lee, new VP   [Credit: David Wilde/BSAS]

Christou is investigating how applications of novel products on two forage crops, ryegrass and maize, can help the crops to cope with the effects of abiotic stresses, particularly aerobic deterioration, while also increasing yield and nutritional quality.

“Silage aerobic spoilage represents an estimated loss of £170 million a year to UK livestock alone,” says Dave Davies, Director of Silage Solutions and a consultant to Alltech, who helps to supervise Christou’s work.

“Understanding this process and identifying control methods are essential to reducing these losses,” notes Davies. “This in turn will improve silage nutritive value and reduce the incidence of livestock disease, which should improve the profitability of silage-fed ruminant livestock.”

He adds: “I was very pleased to hear that Achilleas had been awarded the prize. It represents not only an award for his work, but also to the larger team at North Wyke that are involved in this and closely related silage research projects.”

Lee also endorsed the success: “I am delighted for Achilleas that he has received this award from the British Society of Animal Science, which is the premier livestock research society in the UK. And I am especially delighted as the work is supported by Rothamsted’s strategic alliance partner, Alltech, which shows our strengthening links with industry.”

Alltech’s European Technical Manager for Ruminants, Helen Warren, has praise for Christou, Lee and her company’s partnership with Rothamsted. “I am thrilled that Achilleas has been awarded this prize. It’s testament to his ability and commitment.”

She adds: “Alltech’s Strategic Research Alliance with Rothamsted is based around supporting and promoting the next generation of scientists, so it’s great to see the collaboration working in this way. We’re especially pleased to hear of Michael Lee’s appointment, which we hope will serve only to strengthen the link between industry and academia.”

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
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 £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. 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.
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About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.