Professor Maurice Moloney will take on his new role as director and chief executive in mid April. He will be the 12th director since 1843, succeeding Professor Ian Crute CBE, who retired from the institute in 2009.
Originally from Ireland, Moloney returns to Europe from Canada, where he worked for many years. He is currently chief scientific officer of Calgary-based SemBioSys Genetics — a company he founded in 1994. He has maintained this role alongside a successful academic career at the University of Calgary.
There, he serves as Natural Science and Engineering Research Council Canada/Dow AgroSciences Industrial Research professor of plant biotechnology.
"Rothamsted is one of the most powerful engines for agricultural research in the world," said Moloney. "It will be a great privilege to lead scientific developments at the institute and deploy its science in meeting the challenges of sustainable food supply, bio-based energy and mitigation of agriculture's carbon footprint for the benefit of both UK and global agriculture.
"I also welcome the opportunity to build on Rothamsted's strong reputation for training the next generation of skilled researchers in agricultural bio-science."
Moloney has authored more than 80 scientific papers in high-profile international journals and holds more than 300 patents in plant biotechnology worldwide.
He is also a leading authority on plant cell biology, especially seed biology and its biotechnological applications in crop improvement and in using plants to produce high-value proteins such as therapeutics and novel high-value lipids.
Moloney also has significant experience researching policy-making, having served on the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada in 2002-08 (a Privy Council appointment).
Professor Douglas Kell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), of which Rothamsted is an institute, said: "Moloney's experience of leadership in academic, commercial and policy arenas will help Rothamsted Research to capitalise fully on its scientific strengths and play its full role working closely with other UK and international partners, in delivering the UK's R&D priorities in food security and sustainable bio-energy."
Scientist Chris Bass of Rothamsted's Centre for Sustainable Pest & Disease Management was awarded an Institute Career Path Fellowship by the BBSRC last year, with close to £800,000, for insecticide resistance research.
Scientists at Warwick HRI and Rothamsted Research were also awarded £1m last year by the BBSRC and Syngenta to research the decline of honey bees.