University of Southampton Professor Guy Poppy, one of the UK’s leading experts on food systems and food security, has been appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Food Safety and Security.
Professor Poppy has gained significant research experience throughout his distinguished career and has advised governments around the world including his appointment, in 2014, as the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) as its first (inaugural) Chief Scientific Adviser. In that role, Professor Poppy provided expert and independent scientific advice to the UK government, playing a critical role in ensuring that science and engineering are at the core of decisions made across the government and helping to understand how scientific developments shape the work of the FSA as well as the strategic implications of any possible changes.
He also played a major role in preparing the UK’s regulatory system for the UK exiting the European Union and contributed to reducing the amount of antibiotics used in food production systems and advising on major emergencies including Novichok and the early risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professor Poppy said: “I am truly humbled and have immense pride in receiving such an honour. Serving as a Chief Scientific Adviser was an incredible experience and I would like to thank colleagues at the Food Standards Agency and right across Government for supporting me and helping me work effectively with three different Governments. I’d also like to thank colleagues at the University whom have been an important part of the journey I have taken at Southampton during the past 20 years. Finally my family whom have brought joy and satisfaction to me throughout my career and whom have truly helped me achieve this wonderful honour.”
Professor Mark E Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, praised Professor Poppy’s many achievements, culminating in this honour from Her Majesty, The Queen. “Universities depend on the quality of the people that make them up,” said Professor Smith. “Receiving independent recognition of individuals is one marker of the regard colleagues are held in. “I am absolutely delighted to see the contributions Guy Poppy has made to his field of research and as the Chief Scientific Advisor being recognised by him being made a Companion of the Order of Bath in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. This is a great personal achievement and reflects very well on our University.”
A graduate of Imperial College and Oxford University, Professor Poppy previously worked at Rothamsted Research, becoming Principal Scientific Officer. He left in 2001 to join the University of Southampton where he has been Head of Biodiversity and Ecology, Head of Biological Sciences and Associate Vice President of Interdisciplinary Reserch. In 2010 he successfully led the move of the large and complex School of Biological Sciences into a new Life Sciences Building on the University’s Highfield Campus.
In 2019 he was made Programme Director of the Strategic Priorities Fund Food Systems programme by the UKRI, a research initiative he helped develop together with Chris Whitty (CMO) and Sir Ian Boyd (DEFRA). The highly-ambitious £47.5m programme is aimed at fundamentally transforming the UK food system by placing healthy people and a healthy natural environment at its centre for long-term societal benefit.
“As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and try to move towards a net-zero economy to tackle climate change, transforming the food system will be even more important,” said Professor Poppy.
Last October, he was appointed to the Assured Food Standards (AFS) Board, as Red Tractor’s scientific adviser for agricultural and food science. Red Tractor is the world-leading food chain assurance scheme that underpins the high standards of food and drink, and serves as the flagship logo for the country’s food and farming. He was also the UK’s sole representative on the COST research programme which involves 39 countries across the world, networks addressing global challenges by bringing together networks of scientists.
Professor Poppy has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers including a number of highly-cited articles on risk assessment, risk analysis and risk communication. He has also served as a panellist for the Research Excellence Framework in 2014 and 2021, assessing the quality of agriculture, food and veterinary science in the UK. He has worked closely with the Henry Dimbleby-led National Food Strategy which will be published later this summer.