Professor Urwin obtained his first degree in Applied Biology from Coventry Polytechnic. He was a sandwich student at Rothamsted Experimental Station where as part of Prof. Peter Shewry’s group he was introduced to practical molecular biology, working on genes that encode seed storage proteins. He completed a Ph.D. at the University of Durham looking at Cadmium-regulated gene expression in Datura innoxia, supervised by Prof. Nigel Robinson. Urwin then moved to the University of Leeds where as a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Howard Atkinson’s group he worked on a project to improve the efficacy of plant proteinase inhibitors with a view to developing GM-crop control of plant parasitic nematodes.
Urwin has remained at Leeds as a member of staff within the Centre for Plant Sciences, where he holds a personal chair in plant nematology. His research activity spans laboratory to field studies, and ranges from improving fundamental knowledge of plant nematology to using information gained, particularly from RCUK grants, to develop new agriculturally beneficial technologies. The crop focus of Urwin’s research in the U.K is potatoes, extending to rice, banana and cotton in India, the USA, Africa and China. The group has received research funding from companies in the UK (e.g. Syngenta, ATC, Biogemma), and worldwide (e.g. China Seeds, Limagrain, Nestle). Their biotechnology is donated freely for developing world use. Work originating in the laboratory has led to numerous granted patents. The impact of the research has influenced government policy, and received attention on television, radio and in the international press.
A recent award from BBSRC’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation Club (SARIC) in collaboration with colleagues at Harper Adam’s University focusses on the development of a PCN population advisory tool that provides robust advice and management – this will be the topic of Prof. Urwin presentation at the meeting.
Solveig Haukeland is a general nematologist and an expert in entomopathogenic nematodes and mollusc parasitic nematodes. She obtained her PhD in nematology from Reading University in 1993.
She joined icipe (International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology) in 2014 as a CIM integrated expert (funded by GIZ, Germany), to build the Centre’s expertise and capacity in nematology. Since 2015 a laboratory has been established with a team of technicians and students working on various aspects of agricultural nematology in close collaboration with IITA nematologists, also residing on icipe campus. Since the first report of PCN in Kenya recently, Solveig is also slowly becoming an expert on PCN and potato production in the region.
Before joining icipe, Solveig worked for over 15 years on various aspects of applied nematology at NIBIO (Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research- previously Bioforsk), in Norway, where she is still affiliated. In the recent past, she has been involved in supervising postgraduate students on entomopathogenic nematodes at Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania.