Institute Plants the Seeds of Knowledge to Become an Award Winner

Article excerpt

IT HAS helped feed the world and now an agricultural research institution threatened with closure three years ago has been honoured for its work.

The Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education was last night also awarded to Aberystwyth University, acknowledging the work of genetic scientists at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Ibers).

Ibers' work combines research on plant genetics with plant breeding techniques aimed at developing commercially viable varieties to tackle problems involving food and water supplies, energy security and environmental security.

Achievements over 90 years of work include high-sugar and more digestible forage grasses, white clovers, high quality oats, improved turf grasses, and disease-resistant pearl millet, which was developed in collaboration with breeders in India.

Professor Noel Lloyd, vice-chancellor of Aberystwyth University, said the award confirmed the importance of Ibers' work.

"The university is committed to addressing the important issues in land-based science, and to do so it is necessary to assemble a wide range of expertise," he said.

"There is a seamless connection between scientific research and innovation, and the transfer of scientific and technological know-how to support land-based industry."

Ibers director, Professor Wayne Powell, said the award recognised the commitment and dedication of Aberystwyth's plant-breeding "visionaries" over the past 20 years.

"They in turn have built on work that extends over the 90 years since the Welsh Plant Breeding Station was established by the university in 1919," he said. …