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A Questioning Life: The Hows and Whys in the Application of Plant Science

A Questioning Life: The Hows and Whys in the Application of Plant Science

Atkinson, Chris (2017) A Questioning Life: The Hows and Whys in the Application of Plant Science. Technical Report. Universtiy of Greenwich.

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Chris Atkinson is a plant scientist at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich and currently carries out research and teaching in crop science and its application to agriculture and horticulture. Chris’s early career saw him working for Unilever Ltd. and for AFRC at the Rothamsted Research Station in Harpenden, where his career was inspired to change direction from analytical chemistry to plant science. On retraining he gained a First Class Honours degree in Applied Biology from the University of London in 1979. His love of ‘places wild’ and the opportunity to study mountain plants lead him to U.C.N.W. and the School of Plant Biology, Bangor and a Ph.D. on the physiological ecology of montane grasslands (Atkinson, 1982) from the University of Wales. Yes he did take Welsh lessons, but eventually decided it was easier to marry a Welsh-speaker. On finishing his Ph.D. he worked the Dr. Pat Denne in the Department of Forestry, at the University of Wales, learning much about trees that would one day underpin his research. The opportunity arose in 1984 to work with Prof. Harold Mooney and Bill Winner at Stanford University in California and in Virginia at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The magnificence of living in Appalachia and seeing an ‘Appalachian Fall’ is a sight never forgotten, but the attraction of ‘Lakeland’ even greater and the Atkinson’s moved to Lancaster. His third and final postdoctoral position came when Prof. Terry Mansfield FRS and Bill Davies, at Lancaster University, invited him to work on a project linked to the chemical control of stomatal behaviour (funded by Shell UK). Six years in Lancaster saw Chris become a Research Fellow as he started writing and delivering his own research proposals. In order to breakout of the post-doctoral cycle of short-term contacts and limited stability, Chris with some reluctance, left Lancaster to come to the warmer and drier south and join Horticulture Research International (HRI) at East Malling, as a Senior Scientific Officer, in the Crop Physiology Department. Those 2 years in forestry had all been worthwhile as he now worked on perennial woody crops (fruit trees). Lots of hard work and the drive to carry out science in manner which would be of use to an industry saw him promoted to Principle Research Scientist, within the Perennial Quality and Biotechnology Team. Further promotions came and he became an Executive Member of East Malling Research’s Science Management Team, and was part of the team that achieved privatisation status for the institute in 2006. As Head of Science for the newly privatised organisation he oversaw, with the Group Secretary and Finance Director, East Malling Research balancing its financial books for a number of years. Further changes saw him become the Deputy Chief Executive and Senior Programme Leader (Resource Use for Sustainable Production). Chris also became a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and the Royal Society of Biology, before accepting a Chair at NRI, University of Greenwich, in 2012 and is now the Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. His main research interests focus on understanding the impact of environmental factors on the growth and development of crops, particularly fruits. A major part of his work is on the impacts of drought on crop physiology and production. His research also includes studies of the influence of temperature on the growth and quality of fruit, the impact of autumn temperatures/chilling on the flowering and cropping, and developing strategies to optimise production and examining environmental differences in the ability to set and retain fruit. The tolerance mechanisms of different rootstocks, to drought, have also been a subject for investigation. Recent work is directed at the impacts of soil applied biochar and health benefits of fruit consumption, particularly with respect to agronomic ways to enhance fruit bioactive compounds. His research has also included work on perennial biomass crops, enhancing Artemisia production, and pharmaceutical protein production in transformed tobacco. He has also acted as a peer journal reviewer for a wide range of international plant science journals (>20), for many years, and as the editor of the journal Plant Growth Regulation, as well as, a consultant/reviewer for both national and international Research Councils and organisations such as BBSRC, FCT, NERC, DFID, FAO and USDA. His career has resulted in over 250 publications of which over 100 have been in peer-reviewed international journals

Item Type: Monograph (Technical Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords: CJ Atkinson, Inaugural lecture, Natural Resources Institute
Subjects: S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2017 11:45

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