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Queens Anniversary Prizes 2015

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Richard W Gibson

Dr Richard Gibson

Plant Pathologist
BSc, PhD
Agriculture, Health & Environment Department
Natural Resources Institute


Richard Gibson has worked at the University of Greenwich for 18 years. Since 1991, he has been a Plant Pathologist at the Natural Resources Institute. Prior to that he was, the principal scientific officer at the Rothamsted Experimental Station.

Research/Scholarly Interests

Richard Gibson's key interest is development of sustainable means of controlling plant viruses, mainly through plant breeding. He has worked mainly with root crops and has also been associated with breeding new resistant varieties of sweet potato, cassava and potato, mainly through participatory plant breeding. Richard believes his work on reversion will prove critical in developing virus resistant sweet potato.

Current and Previous Funded Research Projects

2013 -2016: Commercialising clean sweet potato seed production in areas with a long dry season. Value: £1 x 106), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Partners include ARI-Ukiriguru, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Tanzania, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Agro Eco consult, Ngetta Zonal Agricultural Research & Development Institute and the University of Gulu.

The project seeks to understand the marketing system for sweet potato vines in Uganda and Tanzania, to improve it generally by making multipliers more business-like and to improve it specifically by linking multipliers to research and so gaining access to improved varieties and improved methods of propagation.

2008–12: How resistant plant varieties avoid suppression of RNA silencing by viruses as exemplified by sweetpotato. Value: £550,000. Funded by the BBSRC. Partners included Makerere University, Uganda; International Potato Center (CIP), Peru, Central Science Laboratory and Department of Plant Sciences, Cambridge University, UK.

As the title implies, the project sought to understand the biochemical and other processes by which sweet potato was able to revert to healthy through an RNA silencing mechanism.

Responsibilities within the University

  • PhD supervision

Selected Publications

Recent Conference Presentations

  • RW Gibson & PW Wasswa: Is the ability to revert an alternative to distribution of virus-free planting material of sweetpotato to East African farmers?. International Plant Virus Epidemiology Meeting: Arusha, Tanzania, January 2013.

External Recognition

  • Member, Association of Applied Biologist
  • Member, British Society of Plant Pathology
  • Heading the seed systems work of the Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa (SASHA) in Uganda, a multi-million dollar project managed by the International Potato Center and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Contact Information

Dr Richard Gibson

Natural Resources Institute

University of Greenwich

Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, United Kingdom.

Tel: +44 (0)1634 88 3254

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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