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Kayleigh Breen joins Agri-EPI Centre as Agricultural Laboratory Technician

Agri-EPI has recently hired an Agricultural Laboratory Technician to join their technical team. Kayleigh Breen comes from an academic background in Applied Bioscience and Forensics and previously worked in science-based roles for over 5 years. These were based largely in the pharmaceutical industry at companies such as AMRI and Sartorius and extended to Covid-19 testing during the pandemic.

Kayleigh’s role is helping to develop the current laboratory and technical facilities which are based in Agri-EPI’s Northern Agri-Tech Hub using existing instrumentation or bringing in new equipment where required. Some instrumentation already in place includes the Voice200 Syft Mass Spectrometer capable of highly sensitive, selective and non-discriminatory semi/ volatile organic compound analysis of air, water and soil samples, the TA.XT Plus 100C Texture Analyser capable of analysing various food, soil and animal feed samples for things such as consistency and shearing resistance, and also the NIRFlex N-500 FT-NIR Spectrometer used to analyse food, beverage and animal feed samples for moisture, macronutrients and protein content.

Her aim is to provide in-house and on-site testing of various sample types depending on project and partner requirements, such as soil, water and air samples, extending to animal products such as wool or faecal sample analysis.

Kayleigh said:

“This will be a substantial undertaking, but I am looking forward to the challenge and am keen to transform the lab into something that will actively benefit the business and projects moving forward.”

Agri-EPI welcomes new Chief Operating Officer

Kirk Siderman-Wolter has joined the growing Agri-EPI team as its new Chief Operating Officer, working to support CEO Dave Ross and taking responsibility for the operational, financial and support functions of the organisation.

He started on the 1st of December, with a vision of ensuring Agri-EPI has the infrastructure to empower world leading precision and agricultural technologies.

Kirk has an extensive career ranging from work in central government to social enterprise and innovation companies. He has worked from audit to board level in the private, public and charities sectors all round the world, and has held posts with the Ministry of Justice, BEIS, the Home Office and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

A Chartered Accountant, he also holds an MBA from the London Business School and is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts. His undergraduate degree is from the University of Guelph, Canada’s largest agricultural university.

Committed to the idea of giving something back to the community, Kirk is also a non-executive director of PTSD999, a charitable affiliated group for PTSD sufferers within the emergency services and is a governor for the Education & Training Collective (formerly Stockton & Riverside College Group).

Having worked with everything from start-ups and rapidly growing companies to large and multinational organisations, he has a strong understanding of what it takes to run a business and how to work with central, devolved and local governments; as well as socially minded organisations.

More recently he has also worked with an innovation house, supporting their growth from two functioning operational units to a site with seven highly advanced research and design facilities, bringing technology and skills with global relevance.

“I am excited to be joining this dynamic and rapidly growing organisation,” he says. “I have a vision of Agri-EPI operating as a fulcrum to bring our members and partners together with government and the investment community to create a fertile and productive environment to support agri-tech innovation in the UK.”

A word from the acting Chair Vincent Gillingham, Director AgSpace:

“I have the pleasure to congratulate Kirk on his new role as Chief Operating Officer, I know the whole Board is wishing him a successful mission. Agri-EPI has made an excellent choice based on expertise, experience and talent.“

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Agri-EPI Centre welcomes new team members

We are pleased to announce and welcome the arrival of three new staff members to our team. With Lisa, Francesca and Emily on board, we will be able to drive forward our goals to support a productive and sustainable agri-food sector and help us demonstrate that there is an exciting and tech-driven future for agriculture. Let us introduce our new team members here in more detail:

Lisa Williams
>Director of Business Development

Lisa has vast experience in the agri-food sector, having spent over 20 years working in the industry in a variety of different roles. She loves the diversity of the sector and wants to showcase solutions and help improve agricultural businesses.

Her varied career has involved working directly in food manufacturing, which has included roles in health and safety, HR, technical and management.

While working for Food Northwest, she held the role of project manager, working across international trade, seafood, dairy and meat. Her positions have seen her travel around the world with different projects and given her breadth and depth of experience.

More recently, Lisa headed the agri-food division of Promar International, with a focus on business development, project delivery, implementing systems, PR and team management. Her broad, but agri-food related career has brought her to where she is now.

Lisa joined Agri-EPI on 30 September 2019, taking on the role of Director of Business Development. She feels that this position is a combination of all the previous roles and will build on everything she has done in the past. She is very excited to focus on engaging with members and promoting agri-tech solutions so that all aspects of the agriculture and food supply chains can reap the rewards and benefit from the improvements to their own businesses and supply chain.

Francesca El Jorr
>Marketing Officer

Francesca is a Marketing with Brand Management graduate from the University of Stirling, who has experience working in the Higher Education sector. In her role as Marketing Officer at Agri-EPI Centre, she supports the Centre’s efforts in raising its online and organisational profile in the Agri-Tech industry. Agri-tech is a new industry for Francesca, but she is looking forward learning more about the impact that Agri-Tech has on both national and global food production, for both farmers and business owners.

Emily Laskin
>Projects Assistant

Emily is a graduate from University of California, Davis with a degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering. Growing up surrounded by farmland in Northern California as well as having spent many summers with her family in England’s Lake District sparked a passion for local and sustainable food production from an early age. Whilst at university she focused on projects involving food science and technology and indoor vertical farming. She is excited to join the technical team at Agri-EPI supporting the success of projects on the satellite farms and Innovate UK funded research projects.



We expect further expansion of staff, so watch this space for updates. If you are have general enquiries about working at Agri-EPI Centre, please contact our HR Manager:

Suzie Brown
T 0131 239 7100

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

Agri-EPI drive forward agri-food with new team appointments

Agri-EPI Centre is pleased to announce the expansion of its team following four key appointments. Chief Executive Dave Ross said: “This is an extremely busy and exciting time for Agri-EPI as we drive forward our goals to support a productive and sustainable agri-food sector, so I’m delighted to welcome such high calibre new faces to the team.”

Here an overview of new Agri-EPI team members:

Dr Shamal Mohammad

>Chief Technical Officer

Shamal is a leading expert in digital agriculture with a strong passion for transforming the industry by developing novel and practical solutions, using smart technologies, to help farmers and producers optimise food production and minimise adverse environmental impacts.

He worked with Agrii as a Head of Integrated Crop Technology and recently as a Regional Manager for soil, nutrition and precision agriculture. He led the implementation of Agrii’s Soil, Nutrition and Digital strategy and developed a new digital solution to map soil compaction as part of new soil health service.

Previously, Shamal was a consultant for Origin Enterprise PLC to develop a transformative research partnership with University College Dublin, securing €17.6M funding from Science Foundation Ireland to integrate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities into decision making in agronomy through a strong multi and inter-disciplinary research and technical teams.

Whilst at AHDB, Shamal developed many new relationships and partnerships in the areas of precision agriculture, soil and water, crop nutrition and the impact of cropping on the environment. He took on responsibility for leading a £1.6m program of soils R&D on behalf of AHDB.

He was awarded a PhD by Cranfield University in 2010 for his work in the application of remote sensing and geographic information systems to map irrigated potatoes in East Anglia and estimate the impact of climate change on future irrigation water requirements. Shamal was also a Visiting Research Fellow at Cranfield University where he researched and published a scientific article on the application of proximal soil sensor to map soil compaction for site-specific tillage.

Shamal will join Agri-EPI as a Chief Technical Officer on 23 April 2019. He will be based at Agri-EPI’s Southern Hub at Cranfield University but have a UK-wide remit. Shamal will with our partners and members to lead our journey to transform the agriculture industry by providing farmers and producers with a wide range of scientifically robust and commercially viable capabilities.

Humaira Raza

> Accountant

Humaira is an Accounting and Finance graduate and has worked in various sectors including Banking & Finance, Industry and Practice. She is currently studying towards her ACCA qualification to become a Chartered Accountant. Based at our Northern Hub in Edinburgh, she is responsible for daily processing of financial data, setting up financial reports and providing financial support to all organisational teams. Humaira believes that communication between all Hubs is key in ensuring the accounts run smoothly.

Philip Cassidy

>Livestock, Food and Aquaculture Project Manager

Phil has more than 20 years experience as a technical manager / director in chilled food manufacturing across a range of proteins; including fish, pork, red meat, poultry into the UK and European retail market. Serving customers such as M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrison’s, Co-op, Delhaize, Albert Heijn and Carrefour.

He has a postgraduate degree in food science and microbiology from University of Strathclyde, a first degree in agricultural chemistry from Glasgow University and a teaching qualification. He worked briefly for Scottish Food Quality Certification on various EN 45011 product quality certification schemes before moving into the food manufacturing sector.

Prior to that Phil was a lecturer in food technology and quality management at Lincoln University and Glasgow College of Food Technology and has experience in curriculum development and applied research projects in the food industry. Most recently Phil worked for Dawnfresh Seafoods, which is the UK’s largest trout producer, where he had responsibility for food safety and quality and latterly R&D. He had close involvement with Dawnfresh aquaculture in a vertically integrated supply chain from egg to plate.

Based at our Northern Hub in Edinburgh, Phil is looking forward to contributing positively to the growth and development of the Agri-EPI Centre. He will be project managing the Tail Tech and the newly launched Opti-beef projects. Phil’s additional responsibilities cover establishment of a food analysis laboratory and aquaculture initiatives.

Simone Foister

>Research and Development Scientist

Also based at our Northern Hub, Simone is a University of Edinburgh graduate and is in the final stages of completing her PhD in pig behaviour and welfare at the University of Edinburgh and Scotland’s Rural College.

She joined Agri-EPI Centre to work on the TailTech project which aims to develop an early warning system for tail biting. Her role is to analyse data derived from 3D cameras and to develop statistical models that identify key risk factors.

Simone believes that automated monitoring of animals in agriculture has great potential for assisting farmers in better understanding and meeting the needs of their animals, which in turn will improve productivity and animal wellbeing.


We expect further expansion of the Agri-EPI team soon, so watch this space for updates. If you have general enquiries about working at Agri-EPI Centre, please contact our HR Manager:

Suzie Brown
T 0131 239 7100

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.