Rothamsted Research has appointed Susan Watts as its new head of communications. Ms Watts, an award-winning journalist, will take up her new post in autumn this year. She joins the organisation from the Medical Research Council’s London Institute of Medical Sciences, where she is responsible for strategic communications and public engagement. She is better known as a former science editor on the BBC’s Newsnight programme. In addition, she is a regular speaker at science festivals, hosts debates, and works with science-as-culture organisations. 

“We are delighted that Susan is joining us,” says Achim Doberman, director of Rothamsted Research. “Her commitment to making science accessible and engaging is outstanding, as is her ability to place science in context, politically, economically, socially and internationally, and to present it in ways that appeal as much to policymakers and politicians, industrialists and academics, as they do to the general public. These are testing times for the UK, Europe and the world as the global population stretches resources and makes huge demands on agriculture and the environment. They present opportunities for Rothamsted, and for everyone associated with us, and we look forward to more engagement and communication of what we are doing with the widest possible audience.”

Discussing her new position, Ms Watts comments: “I’m really looking forward to working with the talented scientists at this internationally recognised centre of excellent agricultural research. There is so much happening at Rothamsted to engage with, for local communities, for the institute’s UK partners and for its global network. The world needs to think hard about the way food is produced, processed and consumed, and I’m excited at the prospect of telling the stories of Rothamsted’s cutting-edge science and technology, as it addresses pressing challenges around food and farming, on a local, national and global scale.”

Ms Watts joins Rothamsted Research as it launches its five-year strategy “Global Science, Lasting Benefit”. This initiative will address the need to feed a growing world population more sustainably, using smarter agricultural technology. It will also make British farming more sustainable and successful, and broaden UK agriculture’s engagement with private and public sector partners from across the world.