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Harold W Woolhouse (1932-1996), botanist and plant physiologist

Harold W WoolhouseHarold W Woolhouse was Director of the John Innes Centre between 1980 and 1989 and was instrumental in the development of the John Innes Centre in a number of ways. During his time as Director, the John Innes grew from just over 200 staff to over 800, incorporating the Sainsbury Laboratory, the Cambridge Laboratory and the Nitrogen Fixation Laboratory. Woolhouse did much of the planning and negotiation associated with these developments. During this time he also made several crucial appointments, Caroline Dean, Nick Harberd and George Coupland representing a strategic move to the use of the model organism Arabidopsis at JIC. His influence on the development of plant and microbial sciences in Norwich and the UK was of great significance but he was also acutely aware of the importance of the impact that European cooperation would have on the future of scientific research.

His personal scientific interests were broad. He initially trained as a botanist/plant physiologist at Reading and did his PhD in Adelaide. He spent much of his early career at the Universities of Sheffield and Leeds where he worked on heavy metals and senescence. After his move to Norwich to become Director of the John Innes Institute his personal research interests concentrated on C3-C4 metabolism.

In 1990 he left the UK to become Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute in Adelaide, Australia where he began a radical programme of redevelopment in much the same way as he had at John Innes some twenty years earlier. Sadly, he was unable to complete these plans. He was diagnosed with cancer and returned to Norwich where he died at home in 1996.

The painting below produced by artist Leonie Woolhouse illustrates the scientific career of Harold W Woolhouse. It is possible to 'zoom' in and around the image via your mouse or the controls at the bottom of the image.

Reproduced from an original painting by Leonie Woolhouse