Geneticist Alison Bentley has been appointed as director of the Global Wheat Program at the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) from November this year. She succeeds Hans Braun who has directed the program for the last 16 years.

Martin Jones and Alison Bentley

Dr Bentley has worked on wheat genetics, genetic resources and pre-breeding for her entire career. She joined NIAB as a senior research scientist in 2007, progressing to program leader for trait genetics and then director of genetics and breeding in 2016. She represents the UK on the International Wheat Initiative Scientific Committee, and is a committee member for the Genetics Society, the UK Plant Sciences Federation, the Society of Experimental Botany and the editorial board of Heredity.
At the same time, Dr Bentley has been involved in international research projects in Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, India and Pakistan, and leads a number of UK-India wheat and cereal breeding projects.

She believes in a collective vision for equitable food supply and in science-led solutions to deliver impact, and says the move is an opportunity to harness science and breeding to improve livelihoods.

“It really is an exciting time for wheat research: the international community has worked together to produce sequence and genomic resources, new biological and physiological insights, a wealth of germplasm and tools for accelerating breeding. This provides an unparalleled foundation for accelerating genetic gains and connecting ideas to determine how we can practically apply these tools and technologies with partners to deliver value-added outputs,” states Dr Bentley.