Mark to lead potato research at NIAB

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NIAB has appointed Dr Mark Stalham as the new Head of NIAB CUF, the potato research division of NIAB.

Already a senior research associate at NIAB CUF Dr Stalham takes up his new role with immediate effect, guiding the overall scientific direction, development and management of NIAB CUF’s activities, including knowledge exchange. He will continue to have close involvement with the executive committee of the Cambridge University Potato Growers Research Association (CUPGRA), which funds and supplies industry support for potato research.

Commenting on his appointment Dr Stalham said: “I’m looking forward to this great opportunity to pursue some new avenues for collaboration in the field of potato research, agronomy and commercial services. There is some fantastic science being conducted at NIAB and the links with the University of Cambridge, through the Cambridge Centre for Crop Science (3CS), should expand this. The key will be linking the pure research with the applied end of R&D and knowledge exchange, for which NIAB CUF has become widely recognised.

“I have the same enthusiasm for our team, and potatoes, as when I started my career. My goal is to see NIAB CUF expand again to a sustainable number of senior and junior researchers, supported by a technical staff who take pride in their work and its implications for the industry. I’d also like to explore opportunities to enhance the connection between all of NIAB’s potato research, trials and services, which span agronomy, disease testing, varieties and inspection. By continuing to develop NIAB CUF’s worldwide services, such as irrigation scheduling and yield modelling, we should continue to bring in considerable income in the future.”

With a PhD in potato crisp agronomy, and an MSc in viticulture, Dr Stalham has over 33 years of extensive experience and success in the areas of potato research and knowledge exchange. He has been instrumental in establishing and brokering industry and academic contacts, securing funding, and developing and managing key industry and research relationships with AHDB, industry partners, universities, CUPGRA and potato farmers in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

Announcing Dr Stalham’s appointment Stuart Knight, Director of NIAB Agronomy, said, “It is always immensely satisfying to be able to promote colleagues from within our organisation; Mark is the outstanding candidate to lead and further develop our research activities within the potato sector. Having joined NIAB CUF when it was part of Cambridge University Farm he is also in a unique position to build on the excellent foundation created by former colleagues Eric Allen and David Firman.”

Philip Kingsmill, Director of Greens of Soham and CUPGRA Chairman, congratulated Dr Stalham on his appointment, highlighting Mark’s tremendous support to CUPGRA over numerous years, including organising the annual conference, members’ days and study tours on top of his normal duties at NIAB CUF.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with Mark, and the great team he now leads, to further our understanding of potato production. I know he will embrace the position of leading NIAB CUF to deliver the high-quality research data that we have come to rely so heavily on,” said Mr Kingsmill.