Institute launched to transform the food system with new director at the helm

Wednesday, 05 July 2023

The University of Nottingham has launched a new Food Systems Institute to bring together researchers from across disciplines and work with industry and policymakers to deliver solutions to transform the food system. It will be led by newly appointed director Jack Bobo

The Food Systems Institute will strengthen Nottingham’s reputation as the only UK university offering research expertise and capabilities across the food system covering everything from production and processing to transport, consumption, waste and sustainability.

Mr Bobo’s experience spans international law, food and environmental policy and behavioural science. He joins the University of Nottingham from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), one of the world’s largest conservation organisations, where he led teams of policy professionals specialising in fisheries, agriculture and freshwater.

He previously worked as Chief Executive Officer at the food foresight company Futurity; Chief Communications Officer and Senior Vice-President for Global Policy at the synthetic biology Interexon Corporation; and Senior Advisor for Global Food Policy at the US Department of State.

His breadth of international experience will enable the Food Systems Institute (FSI) to build on more than 100 years of University of Nottingham investment in food research and technology, and to effectively address food system challenges of the future.

The Food Systems Institute’s initial research themes will focus on advancing climate adaptation and developing Net Zero food systems, understanding and improving community foodscapes, and addressing food insecurity and diet-related ill-health. FSI is engaging across the university to stimulate ideas and perspectives that can contribute to these research themes.

Jack commented: “The establishment of the University of Nottingham Food Systems Institute comes at a critical moment. Food production has outstripped a growing global population, dramatically reducing hunger. However, that bounty has come with a cost, contributing to deforestation and biodiversity loss as well as rising obesity and diet-related chronic diseases. The food system is wildly complex and needs a more holistic, coordinated approach to these challenges. 

Our vision is to rethink how food is farmed, processed, transported and consumed and to develop new technological and economic models that drive positive change. By enabling transdisciplinary research, the Food Systems Institute will allow experts to share knowledge and insights and secure a future where sustainable food production feeds the world, preserves our natural resources and protects the delicate balance of our planet.
Jack Bobo, Director of University of Nottingham Food Systems Institute
Mr Bobo is an esteemed thought leader whose devotion to food and agriculture research and knowledge transfer will benefit society and inspire generations to come. I am confident he will bring strong leadership and expertise to the Institute and to the university as we continue our work to invest in and grow initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of healthy and sustainable food systems.
Professor Zoe Wilson, Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Science

The Food Systems Institute will be a leader in interdisciplinary research, analysing vulnerabilities and risks to the food system such as climate change, extreme weather, geopolitics, war and supply chain disruption; helping enhance livelihoods across the value chain by improving economic mechanisms and low-cost technologies; and addressing food insecurity and related ill-health through better nutrition and balanced diets.

Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry, Andrew Salter added: “We are excited to add Mr Bobo’s leadership and vision to the university as we continue our work to contribute to more sustainable and healthy global food and agricultural systems.

“Building on the considerable investment made by the university in the Future Food Beacon, we will continue to use our growing research and education capacities, and outreach partnerships, to address the complex challenges we face in global food systems.”

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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