Malcolm Bennett standing in a greenhouse in front of cereal plantsProfessor Malcolm Bennett, the new Honorary Doctor at SLU (photo: by courtesy of University of Nottingham)

Last week, SLU announced the names of honorary doctors for 2023. Malcolm Bennett, Professor of Plant Science at University of Nottingham, is one of them. He has close collaborations with several research groups at UPSC and his support has been crucial for the development of UPSC as a world leading centre for experimental plant biology. He was appointed by the Faculty of Forest Sciences to which one of the two UPSC departments belong.

Malcolm Bennett’s research focusses on how plant roots grow and adapt in their soil environment. His group originally identified the first gene that controlled root angle and encodes the first transport protein described for the plant hormone auxin. Malcolm and colleagues later developed cutting edge non-invasive visualisation techniques for monitoring root growth in natural soil environments using X-ray microtomography and AI-based image analysis techniques.

His most recent work discovered how roots sense soil stresses such as compaction or water availability. This was done in collaboration with UPSC researchers and published in Science in 2021 and 2022. Malcolm Bennett has published over 200 articles in leading journals and is the recipient of several research awards including election as a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO).

“I am thrilled to be awarded the honorary doctorate from SLU", says Malcolm Bennett. “I have worked closely with collaborators at UPSC throughout my career, publishing over 20 joint research papers since 2000. The world leading plant biology researchers and hormone profiling expertise at UPSC has played a key part in sustaining and deepening this collaboration over the past decades.”

Six new Honorary Doctors are appointed this year: two for the Faculty of Landscape Architecture, Horticulture and Crop Production Sciences, one for the Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, two for the Faculty of Forest Sciences and one for the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science. The new Honorary Doctors will be officially appointed during SLU’s Doctoral Award Ceremony on the 7th of October 2023 in Uppsala. The day before, on the 6th of October, they will give a public lecture about their research field.

More information about the six honorary doctors on SLU’s homepage (only in Swedish)

More information about Malcolm Bennett's research

The articles in Science to which researchers from UPSC contributed:

Poonam Mehra et al., Hydraulic flux–responsive hormone redistribution determines root branching. Science 378,762-768(2022). DOI:10.1126/science.add3771

Bipin K. Pandey et al., Plant roots sense soil compaction through restricted ethylene diffusion. Science 371,276-280(2021). DOI:10.1126/science.abf3013