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Congratulations, Ottoline Leyser

last modified May 18, 2020 09:40 AM

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS has been elected as Regius Professor of Botany and she will take up the post in October 2020. Her role as Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory will be taken over by Prof Henrik Jönsson.  

The title of Regius Professor is a rare and prestigious award bestowed by the Sovereign to recognise exceptionally high quality research. The Queen conferred the royal title on the University’s existing Professorship of Botany in 2009.

In addition, Ottoline has accepted the post of CEO of UK Research & Innovation (UKRI), starting at the end of June. She will therefore be on secondment from the Department whilst she carries out this important national role. We are delighted to have a plant scientist at the centre of driving the UK scientific research and innovation sector.

We will arrange a celebration for Ottoline's election, either virtual or in person, in October.


Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS

Dame Ottoline is Professor of Plant Development and Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, which aims elucidate the regulatory systems underlying plant growth and development, combining computational modelling with molecular genetic and cell biological approaches.

She has a long-term interest in inclusiveness and engagement in science and has driven many initiatives to support an open and collaborative research culture that delivers high quality research that is both valuable and valued. This includes ongoing work to improve research culture, which started with a project she chaired for the Nuffield Council on Bioethics. Dame Ottoline is actively engaged in science policy and currently chairs the Royal Society's Science Policy Expert Advisory Committee and serves on the Prime Minister's Council for Science and Technology. In 2017 Dame Ottoline was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to plant science, science in society and equality and diversity in science.

Ottoline's own research has resulted in major advances in our knowledge of plant development and includes pioneering work in studying hormonal control of shoot branching through interdisciplinary approaches. Among her honours are the Society of Experimental Biology's President's Medal (2000), the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award (2007), the International Plant Growth Substance Association's Silver Medal (2010), the UK Genetics Society Medal (2016), the EMBO Women in Science Award (2017) and the British Society for Developmental Biology's Waddington Medal (2020). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, an International Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation and the Leopoldina. She is a Fellow of Clare College.

The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.