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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences
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Professor Guy M Poppy BSc, DPhil, CB

Chief Scientific Adviser to the Food Standards Agency (UK Govt), Professor of Ecology,Principal Investigator (Insect/plant interactions),Director of Transforming the UK food system for healthy people and a healthy environment,Chair of the strategy board of the Public Policy,Seconded to UKRI

Professor Guy M Poppy's photo

Professor Guy M Poppy is Chief Scientific Adviser to the Food Standards Agency (UK Govt) and is a Professor of Ecology in Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton. He is Director of Transforming the UK food system for healthy people and a healthy environment (UKRI SPF programme for £47.5 million), chair of the strategy board of the Public Policy at the University of Southampton, and now spending 60% of his time seconded to UKRI.

Career history

2019 - present: Director Transforming food systems for UK human health and environmental health (UKRI) £47.5 million Wave 2 SPF
2014-present: Chief Scientific Adviser to the Food Standards Agency (UK Govt), UK.
2004-present: Professor of Ecology. University of Southampton, UK.
2012-2014: Director of Multidisciplinary Research. University of Southampton, UK.
2009: Head of Biological Sciences. University of Southampton, UK.
2003: Head of Biodiversity and Ecology Division. University of Southampton, UK.
2001: Senior Lecturer. University of Southampton, UK.
1991: Higher, Senior and Principal Scientific Officer. IACR Rothamsted, UK.

Academic qualifications

1990: DPhil Chemical Ecology. Oxford University, UK.
1987: BSc Biology. Imperial College, UK.

Research interests

Professor Guy Poppy took up his role as the FSA's Chief Scientific Adviser in August 2014. For more than 30 years he has researched global food security and is currently a Professor at the University of Southampton. Prior to becoming a CSA, he directed the Interdisciplinary Research Strategy across 11 research themes and 4 institutes and reported directly to the Vice President and University Executive Committee.

Professor Poppy has significant research experience in food system research and has advised governments around the world. He has published over 120 peer-reviewed papers including a number of highly cited articles contributing to an H index of 50 and over 8500 citations. He is currently a member of the Research Excellence Framework (REF2021) panel assessing the quality of agriculture, food and veterinary science in the UK, having previously served on REF2014 panel.

A graduate of Imperial College and Oxford University, Professor Poppy previously worked at Rothamsted Research for 10 years where he undertook pioneering work on the environmental risks of GM crops leading to a lifelong interest of working at the Science/Policy interface. He left in 2001 to join the University of Southampton where he has been Head of Biological Sciences, where he managed an annual budget of £14 million, more than 1500 staff and students and led the School into a new £45 million Life Sciences building in 2010, whilst improving REF performance in particular impact.
As the FSA's Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Poppy provides expert scientific advice to the UK government and plays a critical role in helping to understand how scientific developments will shape the work of the FSA as well as the strategic implications of any possible changes. His series of CSA reports have reached a very wide audience and have had impact on issues ranging from AMR to Big data and Whole Genome Sequencing through to the food hygiene rating scheme (FHRS). He has focused on connecting science to those using it and has pushed for scientists to be intelligent providers to intelligent customers of science within the FSA and beyond. He is the UK's representative on European Cost Action Programme. He is in active member of the CSA circle in Government as well as being one of six members of the smaller strategic group of CSA's led by Sir Patrick Vallance, which helps set the agenda for CSA's in Government in order to ensure the CSA's have wider impact across Government.

Research group

Ecology and Evolution

Affiliate research groups

Plants and Food Security , Institute for Life Sciences (IfLS)

Research project(s)

Multitrophic interactions - inducted plant resistance and plant S.O.S. signalling

The importance of considering interactions from a multitrophic perspective has become increasingly realised in the last decade. The majority of research in this area has been focussed on crop plants, insect pest herbivores and predators/parasitoids.

Environmental impact of transgenic (GM) plants

This is a very exciting area of research which is of great scientific and political importance. It illustrates how adopting both proximate and adaptive approaches to science provides dividends.

ASSETS: Attaining sustainable services from ecosystems

Rapid assessment of biodiversity and biogeochemical processing across tropical land-use gradients

This project aims to understand how anthropogenic disturbance can alter the interactions between the flora, fauna and abiotic environment that form an ecosystem.

An ecosystem service approach to quantifying the role of freshwater biodiversity in supporting food security

Quantifying linkages between livelihoods, freshwater biodiversity, and drivers of food security and other ecosystem services.

Integrated Systems for Farm Diversification into Energy Production by Anaerobic Digestion: Implications for Rural Development, Land Use & Environment

The research examined the potential for development of anaerobic digestion (AD) on farms, and the contribution that this could make to rural development and diversification of agricultural practice by enhanced land use planning for bioenergy production. The research is set in the context of a rapidly developing European agenda aimed at both strengthening the rural economy and protecting the environment.

Evaluation of Management and Monitoring of Freshwater Systems in Oil Palm Plantations

BRAgS - Building Resilient Agricultural Systems: sustainable livelihoods in Mega-Deltas under environmental change (GCRF/BBSRC)

Develop a stakeholder engagement strategy to generate policy relevant scenarios for rice agricultural systems in relation to (a) future water, nutrient and sediment supply; (b) delta-scale adaptations to agricultural practice, and; (c) local-scale adaptations to water and flood management practice.

Socio-ecological and food security future scenario development with policy makers

Development of workshop based socio-ecological and livelihood based scenario strategies in the agricultural sector of the developing South

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Additional publications

Van Dam, N.M. & Poppy, G.M. (2008) Why plant volatile analysis needs bioinformatics – Detecting signal from noise in increasingly complex profiles. Journal of Plant Biology, 10(1), 29-37.

Firbank, L., Lonsdale, M & Poppy, G. (2005) Reassessing the environmental risks of GM crops. Nature Biotechnology 23(12 1475-147

Poppy, G.M. & M.J. Wilkinson (2005) Gene Flow from GM plants – A manual for assessing, measuring and managing the risks. Blackwell Publishing 241pp

Foster, S.P. Powell, W., Denholm, I. & Poppy, G.M. (2005) Fitness trade-offs in insecticide resistant aphids. Bull Ent Res 95, 37-46

Professional Affiliations

Chief Scientific Adviser to the Food Standards Agency (UK Govt)



2010 Appointed Visiting Professor – Imperial College
2008 Visiting Professorial Fellow – Oregon State University
2002 Scientific advisor on GM plants to Prime Minister's Strategy Unit
2002 Scientific Expert on Parliamentary visit to China
2001 McMaster Fellowship to advise, research and lecture on GMO's in Australia
2001 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB)
1987 Murray Prize for Insect Physiology , Imperial College



2014 Ref adviser to UK universities including Russell Group members

2015 Scientific Advisor for FERA – joint venture between CAPITA and UK Government ( see )

2006 - Founder of USEEC ecological and environmental consultancy unit within the university (

1997–2003 Scientific Advisor to CROPGEN (public understanding of plant biotechnology)

2004 Scientific Advisor to Bright Ideas DTI smart award on novel pest control methods

2001- Scientific collaborator with EXOSECT (spin out company) for 2 BBSRC SBRI grants



1999-2004 BBSRC/NERC steering committee of gene flow from GMO's initiative

2004-2008 NERC – Member of Peer Review College

2006 - DEFRA - Sustainable Arable Link Programme Management Committee

2007-2008 BBSRC AgriFood Committee

2009-2011 BBSRC panel B (plants, microbes, food and sustainability) Committee

2011 - 2014 Ref Panel 6 Member – Agriculture, Food and Veterinary Science

2014-2016 Agri-Food Research Partnership established by GCSA Sir John Beddington

2014- Government High Level Steering Group on Animal and Plant Health strategy

2017 Appointed as UK sole representative on Committee for european COST Association

Professor Guy M Poppy
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 85/3009

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