Researchers join International Food Systems Research Week

Scientists in the School of Biology joined the Global Food and Environment Institute (GFEI) as they hosted international partners from across Africa last week.

The event, delivered by GFEI in collaboration with the FoSTA Health programme, was dedicated to enabling research and innovation collaboration opportunities across strategic research, industry and priority policy themes and focused on a range of research areas such as human, animal, environmental and plant health.  

The delegation included colleagues from academia, industry and government including South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania.  

As part of the week’s activities, FBS academics joined the Food Systems Interdisciplinary Research Forum which featured lightning talks from a range of food systems researchers including Drs Henry Greathead and Hemant Tripathi about their research into pig guts and the valorisation of pig manure, and pests and biodiversity in agriculture.

Dr Henry Greathead presenting at the GFEI international food systems research week

Dr Henry Greathead presents at the Food Systems Interdisciplinary Research Forum

Delegates also toured the University’s world leading facilities which included a visit to the university smart farm and the CIEL National Pig Centre where Dr Ruth Wade gave an overview of the Fix Our Food programme, a multi-disciplinary research programme which is trialling what happens to soil when a combination of different regenerative agriculture principles and practices are applied.  

Dr Ruth Wade hosts a tour of the regenerative agriculture trial

Dr Ruth Wade gives a tour of the regenerative agroiculture trial at the university smart farm.

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds, said:

International Food Systems Research Week is where our community of world leading research and innovation colleagues can collaborate with partners to foster opportunities across research, industry and policy to create life changing impact in our global communities. 

“The global challenges facing our world today - such as food security - can only be solved by viewing the system as a whole. Such a holistic approach requires strong interdisciplinary collaboration.

“We are delighted to continue and develop our partnerships with these leading experts and establish new interdisciplinary partnerships that can tackle global issues and drive change.”

Also during the week, a variety of systems research from Leeds was shared including FoSTA Health and Food Systems Research Network for Africa (FSNet-Africa).

Academics were able to plan FoSTA Health research on supply chain regulation, trade and One Health in southern Africa and progress the work on food systems mapping and modelling, as well as network.

A man and woman network at the event


Professor Stephen Whitfield, Interim Director of GFEI, said: “In a context of varied social and environmental challenges, there are competing priorities for food system change in eastern and southern Africa. Bringing together different disciplines and sectors is crucial for building evidence-based understandings of the implications of food system changes in the region. 

“The Food Systems Research Week is part of our ongoing efforts within GFEI to build interdisciplinary partnerships for global challenge-led research.”

Professor Stefan Kepinski, Associate Director for Agriculture and Environment (GFEI) and Head of the School of Biology, added:

“Researchers in the Faculty of Biological Sciences are working with the university’s interdisciplinary networks and international partnerships to support the urgent challenge of global food security and sustainable agriculture, whether that’s through our research into pollinators, root-soil processes, cellular mechanisms in plants or through our world-leading smart farm.

It was fantastic to be part of this international delegation to share ideas around how we can tackle these complex problems together.

Professor Stefan Kepinski, Associate Director for Agriculture and Environment (GFEI) and Head of the School of Biology

Discover more about our exciting research in food on our website. More information about FoSTA can also be found on Spotlight.