James Hutton (1726 - 1797) was a leading figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, an eighteenth century period of intellectual and scientific achievements in Edinburgh.
The James Hutton Institute, which will begin its operations in April next year, is bringing together existing Scottish expertise in crop research, soils and land-use, and is making a major contribution to the study of key global issues, such as food and energy security, biodiversity, and climate change.
The new institute will operate from the two bodies' existing sites and will employ more than 600 scientists and support staff, making it one of the biggest research centres in the UK and the first of its type in Europe.
The institute will be one of the Scottish Government's main research providers in land, crop and food science and is expected to set up an international office to reinforce its global presence.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, said: "By bringing together the talent and expertise of two such internationally respected bodies, it is entirely fitting that James Hutton is the inspiration behind the new name. As a geologist, physician, naturalist, chemist and experimental farmer, his life encapsulates the ambitious, broad remit that I am sure will be a hallmark of the James Hutton Institute.
James Hutton Institute's chairman Ray Perman said: "We have taken some considerable time over this decision. We involved the staff of SCRI and the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute from the outset. The suggestion that we look to James Hutton came from one of our staff. It absolutely matches the ambitions we have for this new organisation."
Hutton's counterparts included the economist Adam Smith and David Hume, the philosopher and historian. Internationally regarded as the father of modern geology, Hutton was one of the first scientists to describe the Earth as a living system. His thinking on natural selection also influenced Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.