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Honorary professorships galvanise agricultural sustainability agenda at Queen’s

Queen's - AFBI Alliance Co-Sponsor, Elizabeth Magowan, recently awarded an honorary professorship by the Institute of Global Food Security (IGFS) and the School of Biological Sciences (jointly) at Queen’s University Belfast.

 Pictured with Dr Elizabeth Magowan is Professor Nigel Scollan, Director of IGFS at Queen’s University Belfast

Dr Elizabeth Magowan has been honoured for distinguished research in animal science, particularly in the area of de-carbonising agriculture and making livestock farming more sustainable.

Currently Director of Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences at the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), she is also Vice President of the British Society of Animal Science.

She chaired the UK-wide academic consortium on and co-authored the recent ‘Net Zero & Livestock: How Farmers Can Reduce Emissions’ (2022) report commissioned by the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), aimed at providing farmers, processors and policymakers with evidence-based methods for de-carbonising agriculture. She also led an earlier CIEL report, ‘Net Zero Carbon & Livestock Report’ (2020) that established benchmarks for a range of farming systems.

With a PhD in Dairy Nutrition from Queen’s, she went on to focus on pig-systems research upon joining AFBI in 2003. In her current post, she leads a broad, multi-disciplinary team encompassing economists, livestock, plant, food and data scientists. She also co-leads the Queen’s-AFBI Alliance, which seeks to deliver and maximise the impact of Queen’s and AFBI’s innovation and research programmes to drive transformation in the agri-food system.

Key achievements include the Sir John Hammond Award in 2017, from the British Society of Animal Science; and performing the role of Scientific Co-ordinator for a multi-million Euro, EU-funded, international research project (ECO FCE) to increase efficiency and reduce the environmental footprint of pig and poultry farming.

Commenting on the appointment, Dr Magowan said: “I am delighted to receive the honour of holding a professorship within Queen’s and to be part of an innovative, highly driven family of great individuals. Working closely with Professor Nigel Scollan and others, I look forward to furthering the development and impact of the Queen’s-AFBI Alliance, working in partnership with industry and government. There are many challenging, as well as exciting, times for science in the coming years and I am humbled to be able to work with excellent scientists across both AFBI and Queen’s.”

A second honorary professorship was awarded to Dr Itzik Mizrahi, a professor of Microbial Ecology at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel and an internationally recognised expert in the gut microbiome of ruminant livestock.

A winner of the Shilo Prize from the Israeli Society of Microbiology, Dr Itzik has made several headlining research discoveries, resulting in a bacterial species being named after him - Prevotella Mizrahii.

Welcoming the appointments, Professor Nigel Scollan, Director of IGFS, said: “I am delighted to welcome Dr Magowan and Dr Mizrahi to the Queen’s family. These new professorships are richly deserved and congratulations to Elizabeth and Itzik. The appointments recognise the excellence of the science undertaken. I look forward to continued partnership with them as collectively we seek to further embrace excellence in science and partnership to address global challenges in agriculture and food systems.

 “Dr Magowan has been instrumental in forging the Queen’s-AFBI Alliance. As we move into a period of intense challenge – and opportunity – for Northern Ireland agri-food, it’s crucial that the knowledge base works in partnership with industry and government to underpin a food system that’s healthy, safe and sustainable. Dr Magowan brings a wealth of experience and expertise to that agenda.

“Dr Mizrahi is a pre-eminent researcher of the ruminant microbiome. This is such an important area – more fully understanding the gut microbiome in order to reduce methane emissions will be a key aspect of de-carbonising the livestock sector. Dr Mizrahi will be an invaluable asset to our research in this space.”