skip to content

Department of Plant Sciences


Professor Chris Gilligan, Head of the Department's Epidemiology and Modelling research group, has been appointed to the James Hutton Institute's Board of Directors effective from the 1st June 2021. 

Professor Gilligan's current research is focused on establishing and testing a theoretical framework that identifies the mechanisms that control invasion, persistence, scaling and variability of epidemics within changing agricultural and natural landscapes. Applications of his work range from large-scale pandemics of major crops and tree diseases through to pesticide resistance and genetical control and biocontrol in sustainable agricultural systems. His research also focuses on the design of intervention strategies for exotic pathogen threats to the UK and sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Gilligan will bring to the board his computational science expertise and insights into the open science agenda and the strategic priorities for the Institute's science. In addition to this, he also brings to the board his extensive research networks, which are well developed at UK and international levels. Having been on the BBSRC Council and served on many grant funding panels, Professor Gilligan is well connected to the BBSRC and UKRI and has undertaken various specialist advisory roles to the UK and devolved governments, including being the Chair of DEFRA's Science Advisory Council.

Alongside this, Professor Gilligan brings a wealth of Board governance experience from his time on the Natural History Museum Board, the General Board of the University of Cambridge, where he was as Head of the School of Biological Sciences, and as Chair of the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Board member of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. He also has strong links with foundations such as the Gates Foundation and has a specific interest in how young scientists are incentivised and mobilised to respond to current science needs.

Dr Ian Gambles, Chair of the James Hutton Institute's Board of Directors, commented "I am delighted that Professor Gilligan is joining our Board of Directors. Hutton delivers pioneering research on central questions of land use, food, nature and our environment, which are hugely important in Scotland and beyond. Chris Gilligan brings to Hutton not only a distinguished track record in scientific research but also proven thought leadership in the wider scientific and policy arena. His appointment is testimony to the growing strength and reputation of our Institute, and we all look forward to working with him."

Professor Gilligan commented "I am very pleased to be joining the Board at the James Hutton Institute and to be renewing contacts with Scottish science. The mission of the James Hutton places it nationally and internationally at the forefront of the application of natural and social science for land management, sustainable and healthy food production and food security, against a background climate change and decline in biodiversity decline. I look forward to working with the Institute in these important areas."