Alumni network

This year we launched an alumni engagement project to reconnect with former staff and students

If you have worked or studied at the John Innes Centre, and are not already a member of our alumni community join our alumni community. For further information email

Recognising and valuing their achievements, we are working to showcase their careers both in academia and further afield. Here we put the spotlight on to a few of our alumni that we’ve re-connected with so far…

Dr Robert Bradburne

“I left the John Innes Centre in 2002 after six happy years to become a Scientific Liaison Officer at DEFRA. This followed postdoctoral research into wheat quality genetics under Professor John Snape, and my PhD with Richard Mithen on the genetics and activity of glucosinolates in oilseed rape.

I’m the Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser for DEFRA, leading a team of about 40, supporting the CSA Professor Gideon Henderson. At the John Innes Centre, being surrounded by diverse, world-leading science, working with industry and farmers, and having opportunities to present science to scientific and lay audiences helped me enormously in my civil service career. I am grateful to the John Innes Centre for the excellent start on a career path I never expected.”


Dr Philippa Borrill

“I completed my PhD supported by the John Innes Foundation with Professor Cristobal Uauy and Professor Alison Smith, working on a transcription factor which controls wheat grain nutrient content. I subsequently held a BBSRC Anniversary Future Leader Fellowship at the John Innes Centre, during which time I studied the genes regulating senescence in wheat and developed wheat genomic resources.

“I am a Lecturer in Plant Biology at the University of Birmingham. My research group studies senescence and nutrient remobilisation in wheat. We are also interested in the mechanisms controlling gene expression in this polyploid species.”


Dr Fiona Corke

“I started at John Innes as a summer student, taking up a position of PhD 1985 in the Applied Genetics department, working on pea embryo development. Staying for a series of postdoctoral positions across departments, from Applied Genetics to Molecular Genetics, I moved to Aberystwyth University in 2011.

“As Smarthouse Manager, I control the glasshouse conditions, plan and supervise experiments and give tours and interviews to a wide range of people. The thorough grounding I gained at the John Innes Centre has stood me in good stead to enjoy new challenges, from evaluating glasshouse LED lighting to BBC interviews.”


Professor Abolade Afolabi

“I was a Rockefeller / DFID PhD Fellow in the Dept of Crop Genetics under Professor John Snape and worked directly under Dr Philippe Vain on the ‘Development of a new clean Gene Technology for Rice’. The thesis addressed the separation of gene of interest from the marker gene, thus solving one of the biosafety concerns of GMO.

“I am currently the Director of Research at the Biotechnology Advanced Research Centre of the Sheda Science and Technology Complex, which is the apex Nigeria Advanced Laboratory. As a Professor of Biotechnology, I also teach and mentor both undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola.”

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