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Hawkins Welcomes Plant Pathologist James Townsend

Materials, Chemistry & Biology

Hawkins is pleased to welcome Plant Pathologist James Townsend to our Reigate Office. James joins Hawkins with over 20 years’ experience in the biology and plant pathology fields.

James studied Applied Biology at Brunel University and graduated in 1998. The course included two industrial placements: one in agriculture and one in horticulture at HRI-East Malling, now NIAB-EMR, where his project on the genetic resistance to the disease apple scab inspired him to pursue a career in plant pathology.

After being invited back to work at HRI-East Malling, following a short period in the microbiology laboratory at British Sugar, James spent 12 years as a Senior Research Assistant in the Plant Pathology Department at Rothamsted Research, the oldest agricultural research institute in the world. He worked primarily on a project to breed genetic resistance to diseases in oilseed crops to benefit resource-poor farmers in India funded by the Department for International Development. His work also included research into the effects of climate change on plant diseases in the UK and resulted in the publication of several peer reviewed scientific papers. Whilst at Rothamsted Research, James also gained extensive experience in the handling of non-indigenous plant pathogens, and contributed to the setup of a biological containment facility.

After a short period in breeding brassica (a genus of plants in the cabbage and mustard family) at the University of Warwick Crop Centre, James spent six years as a Project Manager in Plant Pathology at Stockbridge Technology Centre where he managed a portfolio of field and glasshouse research projects for the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board and commercial clients, primarily in the agrochemical sector. He also managed the diagnostic Plant Clinic, providing diagnoses for a range of UK and overseas crop problems for customers, gaining extensive experience in plant disease diagnostic techniques.

James joins Hawkins from Berry Gardens, the UK’s leading berry and stone fruit production and marketing group, where he was the Applied Plant Pathologist for the grower cooperative. He used his expertise to diagnose crop problems and fruit rots and advise growers on disease management strategies.

James enjoys encouraging plant pathologists and has given workshops on plant disease diagnostics to small groups of scientists and to a larger audience for the British Society of Plant Pathology.

Hawkins is certain that James will be a great asset to the company, and will bring a new perspective to contamination, mould, and biology-related investigations.

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