Dr Harrison is the Managing Director of the Plant Science Group, comprising 1400 staff split across 19 chair groups in Wageningen University and 7 Business Units within Wageningen Research.
Previously he was a Director at NIAB (UK) with overall responsibility for NIAB’s portfolio of arable genetics, pathology, biotechnology, data science and crop characterisation. Alongside that he led NIAB’s contribution to the Crop Science Centre, the alliance between the University of Cambridge and NIAB. Prior to his role in Cambridge he worked at East Malling as head of genetics, where he specialised in horticultural genetics and genomics.
Dr Harrison has a PhD in evolutionary systems biology. His research has focussed at the intersection of molecular biology, statistical genetics and modelling. His group have worked to understand the evolution and genetic basis of complex traits, such as interactions between plants and microbes. Outputs have included scientific knowledge and solutions to underpin the sustainable development of the agricultural and horticultural industry, using both breeding and biotechnology solutions. Through collaborative work with industrial partners he and his team have delivered disease resistance traits into multiple commercial breeding programmes.
Following a Nuffield farming scholarship looking to the future of crop production, his interests have broadened to providing long-term data driven and modelling solutions to enable the design of systems that sustain both ecosystem services and food production, by integrating crop genetic variation, system-level crop performance and environmental simulation enabling the rational design of crops and systems.
Dr Harrison has been a member of the BBSRC Agri-food Strategic Advisory Panel, the KTN Plant Science advisory board, the NFU Net Zero Science Advisory Board and the BBSRC pool of experts.