Science Advisory Committee

RBGE Board of Trustees Representatives

Professor Thomas Meagher (Chair)

Professor Thomas Meagher moved to Scotland in 1999 as Professor of Plant Biology at the University of St Andrews. Prior to that, he was a Professor of Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA. He studied Botany at the University of South Florida, Florida, and gained a PhD in Botany and Genetics at Duke University, North Carolina. His research interests include plant evolutionary biology, conservation biology and biodiversity, and public understanding of science.

Professor Meagher has served on the Defra Science Advisory Council (2004-2009), the Natural Environment Research Council (2007-2013) and the UK Plant Health and Biosecurity Taskforce (2012-2013).

Professor Beverley Glover

Professor Beverley Glover grew up in Perth, reading Plant and Environmental Biology at the University of St Andrews before a PhD in Plant Development Genetics at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. She established her research group at the University of Cambridge in 1999, where she is also a Fellow of Queens' College. Beverley is Director of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and Professor of Plant Systematics and Evolution, a role which combines active research in flower evolution with strategic leadership of the garden.

Committee members

Professor Janet Sprent FRSE

Professor Janet Sprent FRSE (Emeritus) is Emeritus Professor of Plant Biology at the University of Dundee and was a Trustee of RBGE from February 2007 to February 2015, where she is now an Honorary Research Associate. She has over 50 years' experience of plant science research, with particular interest in symbiotic nitrogen fixation. An Honorary Research Fellow of the James Hutton Institute, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, she was awarded an OBE in 1996 for services to science and education. In 2002, her research in the field of ecology was recognised with an Honorary Membership of the British Ecological Society and in 2012 she received an honorary Doctorate from the Swedish Agricultural University. She retired from the Board of Scottish Natural Heritage in March 2007.

Among former appointments, she was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, a member of RERAD Strategic Scientific Advisory Panel. Chairman of Governors of Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, a member of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, a Council member of the Natural Environment Research Council, and Deputy Principal of the University of Dundee. With publications and collaborations across the world she has published 7 books and hundreds of research papers from all continents. Her main current activities are principally centred in Brazil, South Africa and Western Australia, with a special interest in evolution of nodulation in the Leguminosae and in the compilation of a database of this nodulation (ILDON).

Professor Simon Hiscock

Professor Simon Hiscock became Director of the Oxford Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum in July 2015, and is a fellow of Christ Church College. Prior to this he was Professor of Botany and Director of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden. He did his first degree in Botany at Oxford (Worcester College) in 1985 and after a brief spell as a biology teacher, gained a DPhil from Oxford (Department of Plant Sciences) in 1993. After post-doctoral research and a Junior Research Fellowship at Worcester College Oxford, he was awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellowship to research the molecular genetics and evolution of self-incompatibility in Senecio squalidus (Oxford ragwort). In 2000 he moved this Fellowship to Bristol and in 2002 was appointed Lecturer in Plant Sciences in the School of Biological Sciences. In 2004 he became Reader in Plant Sciences and in 2007 Professor of Botany. He was Director of the University of Bristol Botanic Garden from 2003-2015.

His research seeks to understand fundamental processes in plant reproduction and evolution using genetics and genomics. Current research is focused on studying the interacting forces of mating system, interspecific hybridization, and polyploidy in three taxonomically ‘difficult’ groups: Senecio (Asteraceae), Sorbus (Rosaceae), and Orobanche (Orobancaceae).

He is Scientific Secretary of the Linnean Society, a Core Member of NERC panel E and an Honorary Professor at the University of Bristol.

Professor Susanne Renner

Professor Susanne Renner moved to Munich in 2003 as Professor of Systematic Botany at the University of Munich and director of the Munich Botanical Garden and Herbaria. Prior to that, she was a Professor of Biology at the Universities of Missouri in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, the university of Aarhus, Denmark, and the university of Mainz, Germany. She studied Biology at the University of Hamburg, Germany, where she also did her doctorate and habilitation. Her research interests include plant evolutionary biology, sexual reproduction, and plant/animal interactions. Professor Renner has served on the German National Science Foundation’s permanent plant panel (2008-2016), numerous science evaluation panels in Scandinavia, Germany, and Brussels. Susanne is a member of the German Academy of Sciences and foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences.

Dr Ian Bainbridge

Dr Ian Bainbridge has the role of providing advice on science and research issues across SNH. From 2001-2009, Ian was the Scottish Government’s Chief Ecological Adviser and Deputy Director for Science Advice and Information. Ian has worked in conservation ecology for thirty five years, previously with RSPB Scotland and the Wildlife Trusts. He is a board member of the Scottish Government’s CAMERAS initiative and of the Scottish Consortium for Rural Research, and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental management. He chaired the recent GB-wide Review of the Guidelines for Biological SSSIs, chairs the UK Scientific Working Group on the EU Birds Directive’s Special Protection Areas, and led for the EU on the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Island Biodiversity Work Programme.

Away from work Ian has a keen interest in alpine plants, is a past President of the Scottish Rock Garden Club, and a member of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Joint Rock Garden Plant Committee.

Professor John Grace FRSE

Professor John Grace (Emeritus) FRSE is an Emeritus Professor at the School of GeoSciences in the University of Edinburgh. He is a former president of the British Ecological Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and President of the Botanical Society of Scotland. His earlier work is on aspects of plant physiology as influenced by the natural environment. Current interests include: carbon dioxide and methane fluxes over forests; tropical ecosystems; innovation in instrumentation for measuring plant-atmosphere interactions. He has published over 300 papers and chapters in peer-reviewed international journals and symposia; he has edited or authored ten books, and was the founder co-editor of the journal Functional Ecology. He has designed, led and taught many BSc and MSc programmes, in Ecology and Environmental Change.

Professor Janis Antonovics, PhD, FRS, FLS

Professor Janis Antonovics, PhD, FRS, FLS is Latvian by birth, British by upbringing, and is a US and UK citizen. His research is on the evolution and epidemiology of infectious diseases in natural populations. His current work focuses on the role of diseases in determining species range limits, host- pathogen co-evolution, and the dynamics of sexually transmitted diseases. His research combines theoretical modelling with empirical studies on anther smut disease (caused by the fungus Microbotryum) on Dianthus and Silene, and analysis of datasets involving organisms ranging from bumble bees to humans. He also has strong interests in the history of biology, including Linnaeus and the germ theory of disease, and evolutionary biology during political transitions in Germany. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and former President of the American Society of Naturalists, and of the Society for the Study of Evolution.