In 2018, we welcomed Professor Nicola Spence as Honorary Professor for the University of Birmingham and a Director BIFoR
Nicola is Defra’s Chief Plant Health Officer (CPHO) and is the Head of the National Plant Protection Organisation for the UK. The role of CPHO involves advising ministers, industry and others about the risks posed by plant pests and diseases, and ensuring that measures are in place to manage those risks and minimise their impact, as well as leading the operational response in the event of a disease outbreak. Although plant health is a devolved matter; the CPHO co-ordinates the UK response to European and International plant health matters and takes the lead on national plant health emergency response.
Nicola is an experienced research plant pathologist and worked on virus diseases of horticultural crops in the UK and internationally for over 20 years. She is an expert in plant health and international plant trade and was previously the Head of Plant Health and then Chief Scientist at the Food and Environment Research Agency.
She is a Vice President of BSPP, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, Visiting Professor at Harper Adams University, a member of Court at the University of York and a Trustee of The Yorkshire Arboretum.
She has a BSc in Botany from the University of Durham, an MSc in Microbiology from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Plant Virology from the University of Birmingham. The subject of her PhD was Bean Common Mosaic Virus in Phaseolus beans in Africa.