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Bristol academic to head Rothamsted Research farmland site

Professor Michael Lee

16 January 2015

Professor Michael Lee, an expert in ruminant nutrition in the School of Veterinary Sciences, has been appointed Head of Site at North Wyke, Rothamsted Research’s site for grassland systems research.

The new Head of Site is a joint professorial appointment between Rothamsted Research and the University of Bristol to provide overall strategic and scientific leadership for the research undertaken at Rothamsted Research’s North Wyke site. North Wyke provides unique research capabilities including the Farm Platform National Capability, strategically funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

North Wyke represents the only replicated farm-scale grazing capability in the UK, as all other research facilities concentrate either at the animal or field scale due to lack of capability at the farm-system scale which the Farm Platform and surrounding North Wyke facilities provides. As such North Wyke is the only UK scientific research base supporting 70% of the country’s landscape (grazing farm land). Internationally, North Wyke positions the UK to play a significant role in global sustainable livestock production and food security.

The appointment provides a strong collaborative relationship between Rothamsted Research and the University of Bristol to deliver high-quality science in the area of agricultural sustainable intensification. The relationship will facilitate multidisciplinary research in systems health and product quality across the food spectrum from soil, plants, and animals through to human health.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Michael Lee said: ‘I am thrilled to be given such an exciting opportunity to make a difference on the sustainable intensification of agriculture, which is vital if we are going to deliver high quality food to a growing population and at the same time safeguarding the future of our planet.’

‘The use of grains and human edible food to provide feed for livestock is becoming increasingly challenged, therefore the ability to provide high quality human nutrition utilising grazing lands (not suitable for crop cultivation) through ruminant livestock is vital. North Wyke provides the UK with the tools to tackle sustainable food production from grazing livestock to address the global food security, landscape degradation and nutrient (macro and micro) cycling research agenda.’

Professor Lee will take up his role as Head of Site at North Wyke on 1 March 2015. Since April 2013, he has been a Reader in Sustainable Livestock Systems and Food Security at the University of Bristol School of Veterinary Sciences, and has also been supported by Rothamsted Research to carry out research on the North Wyke Farm platform. Professor Lee graduated with first class honours in Animal Science from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1997 before completing his PhD in ruminant nutrition at the University of Aberdeen in 2001. He then worked for the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research and subsequently the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University until taking up his appointment at Bristol.

Professor Achim Dobermann, Director and Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research, said: ‘Rothamsted Research conducts cutting-edge research on innovations for the sustainable intensification of major food production systems. Our research on designing future grassland-livestock systems is a significant contribution to UK and global agriculture. We look forward to Michael’s dynamic leadership in this area.’

Professor Melanie Welham, BBSRC Executive Director, Science, said: ‘BBSRC welcomes the appointment of Professor Lee, who brings the expertise needed to lead this important and unique national capability, allowing researchers to gather essential data as we strive to sustainably produce enough food for a growing population.’

In addition to the joint North Wyke Head of Site appointment, Rothamsted Research will support the appointment of a new lecturer/senior lecturer in Sustainable Livestock Systems and Food Security to work between the University of Bristol, Vet School and North Wyke Farm Platform.

Further information

About Rothamsted Research

We are the longest running agricultural research station in the world, providing cutting-edge science and innovation for nearly 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 BBSRC. In 2013-2014 Rothamsted Researched received a total of £32.9 million 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 £484 million in world-class bioscience in 2013-14. 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.

More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes is available.

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