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Our team Leadership team

The leadership team includes the Principal Investigators, senior operations team and the lead for each of our core research areas. The group meets regularly and provides dynamic and strategic leadership for the programme, ensuring integration across activities and the pursuit of transformation.

  • Dr Rebecca Wells

    Senior Lecturer in Food Policy

    City, University of London

    Rebecca is a Senior Lecturer in Food Policy in the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London and the Programme Director for the Centre’s MSc in Food Policy. Her research focuses on the interactions between food policy and the media, and developing food policy for a healthier, more sustainable and equitable food system. She has a particular interest in the pedagogy of food systems and was made a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2018.  Rebecca’s current research projects reflect her research interests. She is a Co-I on the HEALTHEI (Health Economic Analysis incorporating effects on Labour outcomes, Households, Environment and Inequalities for food taxes) project, leading an analysis of media coverage of food taxes. She is a Co-I on the Transforming UK Food Systems Centre for Doctoral Training.

    A former BBC producer and food journalist, Rebecca joined the BBC in 1991 working on a variety of programmes including investigative and consumer output for BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, 4 and the World Service, before becoming a producer on BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme in 1999. She produced dozens of documentaries for the Food Programme, on topics including food policy, food culture, food history, nutrition, environmental sustainability and food education.

    Email: rebecca.wells.1@city.ac.uk

  • Image of Bob Doherty

    Professor Bob Doherty

    FixOurFood Academic Director

    University of York

    Bob is one of the Directors of FixOurFood, Professor of Marketing and Dean of the School for Business and Society at the University of York.  Since joining York in 2012 he has been Principal Investigator of ‘IKnowFood’ and more recently ‘FixOurFood’ from the Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund.  Between 2019 and 2022 Bob was seconded as a policy fellow into the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to work on food systems policy development. Bob specializes in research on pro-social market mechanisms in the food system, including hybrid organisations and certification bodies.

    He is currently a trustee on the board of the Fairtrade Foundation and a member of the Grow Yorkshire Board. Bob sits on the UKRI Sustainable Agriculture and Food Strategy Advisory Panel in the BBSRC Research Council. He is Founding Editor Emeritus of the Social Enterprise Journal (published by Emerald publishers) after 10-years as Editor in Chief. Prior to moving into academia Bob spent 5-years as the Head of Sales and Marketing at the Fairtrade social enterprise pioneer Divine Chocolate Ltd and 8 years in the Global Animal Health Industry.

    Email: bob.doherty@york.ac.uk

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  • Professor Ioan Fazey

    Director of Strategy for the Department of Environment and Geography

    University of York

    Ioan leads the action-oriented research in FixOurFood that aims to understand how we can support a systemic and transformational pattern shift in the Yorkshire Food system. This has included extensive stakeholder engagement to explore transformation, assisting different bodies to develop strategic food transformation plans and developing new concepts around regenerative food systems. Ioan is Professor of the Social Dimensions of Environment and Change and Director of Strategy for the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York. His research is focused on how we can achieve big, deep change, fast. He has over 80 research publications and he actively supports and facilitates a growing field of research, teaching and action associated with transformation.

    Email: ioan.fazey@york.ac.uk

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  • Image of Katherine Denby

    Professor Katherine Denby

    Professor of Sustainable Crop Production

    University of York

    Katherine is one of the Directors of FixOurFood and a member of the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products in the Biology Department at the University of York. Her research focuses on plant disease resistance, novel bio-control strategies and crop improvement for disease resistance, yield and quality traits. Katherine’s work is focused on leafy vegetables, using large-scale data and new plant breeding techniques to meet the needs of UK and Global South agriculture and new production systems (e.g. vertical farming). She is an editor of The Plant Journal and the journal Plants, People, Planet, and an Executive Board member of the Global Plant Council.

    From 2016-2021 Katherine was Academic Director of the N8 AgriFood Programme, a multidisciplinary programme across eight UK universities integrating research and providing evidence to inform policy and practice in sustainable food production, resilient food supply chains, and accessible healthy diets to tackle national and global food security challenges.

    Email: katherine.denby@york.ac.uk

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  • Image of Lisa Collins

    Professor Lisa Collins

    Professor of Animal Science

    University of Leeds

    Lisa is Head of the School of Biology, Professor of Animal Science, N8 Agrifood Chair in Agricultural Systems, Director of the National Pig Centre and Deputy Director of the Global Food and Environment Institute at the University of Leeds. Her research focuses on the development and application of smarter agricultural systems through multi-disciplinary approaches including technology development, systems modelling and data analytics. Amongst a broad portfolio of active research projects, Lisa is PI on PIGSustain, a £2.06m Global Food Security programme grant.

    Lisa serves on national and international advisory, funding and academic society councils and strategy groups, including BBSRC, the Dog Advisory Council, ASAB council, and European Food Safety Authority groups. She is an experienced public communicator of science, regularly presenting invited public lectures including at the Royal Institution and in national theatres.  Her work regularly features in national and international news media in all formats.  In 2014, she received the British Science Association Charles Darwin Award for excellence in science communication, and in 2010, the UFAW Young Animal Welfare Scientist of the Year award.  In 2020, she was elected as a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and is the British Science Association Section President for Agriculture and Food for 2021.

    Email: L.Collins@leeds.ac.uk

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  • Image of Maria Bryant

    Professor Maria Bryant

    Professor in Public Health Nutrition

    University of York

    Maria is a Professor of Public Health Nutrition based at the University of York and the Bradford Institute of Health Research. She is a nutritionist with over 20 years’ experience in the design and delivery of trials and related methodological research in the field of food, diet and obesity. Her methodological interests include development and evaluation of public health interventions, food systems, trials, cohorts, implementation evaluation, and applied health research. She is passionate about partnership working and is dedicated to ensuring meaningful engagement in all aspects of her work. In addition to being the strategic lead of a portfolio of research focused around public health nutrition within the Hull York Medical School and the Department of Health Sciences, Professor Bryant is the Director of Nutrition Research for Born in Bradford, theme lead for UKPRP ActEarly (Evaluation theme and Food and Healthy weight theme), sub-system lead for Early Years and Schools within UKRI FixOurFood, Academic Director of the BaBi network,  the academic lead for Diet and Obesity evaluation for a Better Start Bradford, and the out-going Chair of the Board of Trustees for the UK Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO).

    Email: maria.bryant@york.ac.uk

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  • Professor Sarah Bridle

    Professor of Food, Climate and Society

    University of York

    Sarah is a transdisciplinary researcher driven by the need to tackle climate change, focusing on a quantitative approach to helping transform food systems to steward change to new kinds of futures.

    Sarah’s current research focuses on synthesising, exploring and effectively communicating environmental and nutrition impacts of different dietary options, with the aim of driving changes in food production methods and portfolios to be healthy for people and planet.

    Sarah currently leads the AFN Network+ . A network that brings together key research leaders and stakeholders, their organisations and networks. Their mission is to shape the next decade of research to support and drive the agrifood system’s progress towards net zero.

    Sarah has unique expertise in managing large scale data, bringing a background including a degree in Natural Sciences, a PhD in astrophysics (University of Cambridge, 2000); and statistical cosmology research in France, Cambridge, London (Lecturer/Reader 2004-2012) and Manchester (Professor 2013-). Author of >100 refereed publications with >10,000 citations (h>50), Sarah has won prestigious awards including a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, the Royal Astronomical Society’s Fowler Award, and ERC Starting and Consolidator Grants.

    Sarah founded the Take a Bite out of Climate Change project, including leading a stand at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in 2019.

    Email: sarah@sarahbridle.net

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  • Image of Michelle Cain

    Dr Michelle Cain

    Lecturer in Environmental Analytics

    University of Cranfield

    Michelle’s core expertise is in greenhouse gases, air pollution and climate science. Her current research focuses on the role of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide in limiting global warming, consistent with the Paris Agreement’s temperature goal. In particular, how to estimate the temperature outcomes from reducing methane emissions. Agricultural emissions are dominated by methane and nitrous oxide, both potent greenhouse gases. However methane’s lifetime in the atmosphere is around a decade, whereas nitrous oxide’s is over a century, and so methods of comparison must account for this to be accurate over all timescales.

    Before joining Cranfield in 2020, Michelle was a senior researcher at the University of Oxford, where she developed the Oxford Martin Programme on Climate Pollutants, which aimed to make climate metrics used in climate policy more fit-for-purpose. She held two University of Oxford Knowledge Exchange Fellowships, on agricultural climate mitigation.

    As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge (2009-2017), Michelle worked on modelling the sources of pollution measured by the Cranfield-based FAAM research aircraft. She took part in conducting large field campaigns to the Arctic to measure methane in the atmosphere, linking these measurements back to sources such as remote wetlands. Other field campaigns targeted UK air pollution, and fugitive methane from North Sea gas rigs.

    Her PhD, from the University of Reading, combined airborne measurements with modelling of long range transport of pollutants in the atmosphere from North America to Europe, and also in the West African Monsoon.

    Photo credit: David Fisher

    Email: Michelle.Cain@cranfield.ac.uk

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  • Dr Belinda Morris

    Operations Director

    University of York

    Belinda is responsible for the operational oversight of FixOurFood. Her interests lie primarily in maths and science – she holds a PhD in surface and solid state chemistry (Manchester) and tutors maths and science to Key Stage 4. She built her experience in financial and project management whilst leading the Interpretation and Exhibition teams at the National Railway Museum. Prior to that she worked as a science communicator – designing and delivering community science events around the Yorkshire region.

    Email: belinda.morris@york.ac.uk

  • Image of Steve Banwart

    Professor Steve Banwart

    Director, Global Food and Environment Institute

    University of Leeds

    For the first three years of the FixOurFood programme Steve brought expertise in soil research and theoretical mathematical modelling, but very sadly he passed away in December 2023.

    Steve held the University of Leeds Leadership Chair in Integrated Soil – Agriculture – Water research and was Director of the Global Food and Environment Institute. He championed integrating research on soil and water resources into the study of Earth’s Critical Zone, the surface layer of the planet from bedrock to atmospheric boundary layer that provides most life-sustaining resources. He obtained a BSc in Civil Engineering and a MSc in Environmental Engineering from the University of Iowa and a PhD in Natural Environmental Science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – Zurich. His core science was basic chemistry that is also applied to the study of soil systems and natural waters. His achievements include combining laboratory experimentation, theoretical mathematical modelling, and data from field studies in order to describe water flow and transport and mechanism of chemical transformations that quantify: (a) Soil functions that produce crops, store and filter infiltrating water, transform nutrients, store carbon from the atmosphere as organic matter, provide habitat and sustain biodiversity, (b) Weathering of rock and minerals to deliver solutes to drainage waters in catchments and river basins including the release of contamination from mining sites and (c) Role of the geological barrier to contain civilian high level nuclear waste within underground repositories constructed in bedrock Biogeochemistry and natural biodegradation of hydrocarbon pollution in soil and groundwater aquifers.

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  • Sophie Stewart

    Programme Manager

    University of York

    Sophie is a former secondary school Head of Science who made the transition to work in higher education following her relocation to York. Prior to working with FixOurFood, Sophie facilitated the operations of the Bioscience Technology Facility in York, and has a range of experience in events management, project development and future planning.

    Email: sophie.stewart@york.ac.uk