As a former President of the Ulster Farmers Union, the Derry farmer is a well-known figure in the UK and Irish food and farming industries, both as a leading business-man, policy advocate, farmer and scientist.
Dr. Gilliland is currently Director of Agriculture & Sustainability at Devenish Nutrition.
He chaired the Sustainable Agriculture Land Management Strategy Northern Ireland (on behalf of DAERA), and has held many other appointments including Director of the Oxford Farming Conference, Chair of the UK’s Rural Climate Change Forum and an Expert Industry Advisor (agriculture) on the EU Commission’s Soil Health & Food Mission Board Assembly.
Dr. Gilliland already participates in a number of agricultural research projects at Queen’s, often in partnership with the Agrifood and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), under the Queen’s-AFBI Alliance.
For example, he currently chairs the DAERA EIP Innovation project, ARC Zero, which is accelerating seven NI farms towards net carbon zero. He is also involved in the Food Futures research project, focused on developing metrics of sustainability for agrifood systems in NI.
For seven years he was the project lead on the Devenish Research and Innovation Farm, The Lands at Dowth, in Co Meath. This is an international research and education platform on ruminant agriculture’s relationship with its landscape, sitting within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bru na Boinne. Dr Gilliland has facilitated connections between Queen’s research staff and students who can avail of the farm’s unique landscape and facilities.
Welcoming the announcement of the honorary professorship, IGFS Director Professor Nigel Scollan said: “John’s wealth of business acumen, entrepreneurial skills, policy development and agrifood experience will bring an extra dimension to the sustainability agenda at Queen’s, both in mentoring the next generation of agrifood professionals and partnering in our research programmes.
“He has a track record in advancing agricultural systems firmly underpinned by excellent science, smart technology and data analysis. He will be an excellent ambassador for IGFS, the School of Biological Sciences, Queen’s University as a whole and the Queen’s-AFBI Alliance.
“He brings highly distinguished thought leadership and I look forward to a close and productive partnership.”
Dr. Gilliland will deliver lectures to undergraduate and postgraduate students in agriculture, sustainability, environment, climate change and land use, as well as continuing to take part in research. The appointment is with immediate effect.