Dr Alastair Robertson, Group Executive, Food, Health and Life Science Industries.
Dr Alastair Robertson: Group Executive, Food, Health and Life Science Industries
Dr Alastair Robertson leads the Food, Health and Life Science Industries Group in CSIRO. He has extensive research, policy and leadership experience in public and private sector R&D and industry, with a strong track record in food value chain around safety, quality and productivity issues.
14 July 2010 | Updated 15 February 2013
Dr Alastair Robertson took up the role of Group Executive, Food, Health and Life Science Industries in July 2010 after three and a half years as Deputy Chief Executive, Science Strategy and Investment.
The Food, Health and Life Science Industries Group in CSIRO serves large and vital sectors of the Australian economy including the food and fibre value chains, human health sector and more recently the newer industries developing out of the broader application of the Life Sciences.
In particular, the Group is responding to a strong demand for science-based solutions to major global challenges such as food security and the need to increase agricultural productivity in a sustainable way, disease prevention in our aging population, biosecurity and the threat of zoonotic diseases, and the development of sustainable sources of energy and materials.
The Group also carries responsibility for policy oversight of biotechnology/bioeconomy, including regulation of gene technology research.
Dr Robertson joined CSIRO in 2003 as Chief Executive Officer of Food Science Australia (FSA). FSA is a joint venture between CSIRO and the Victorian Government. In 2005 he became the Group Executive, Agribusiness, and in February 2007 Executive Director (and subsequently Deputy Chief Executive), Science Strategy and Investment.
During his time as Deputy Chief Executive from 2007 to 2010, Dr Robertson led the consolidation of the National Research Flagships program as CSIRO’s major mechanism for addressing national challenges and opportunities. He also oversaw the integration of the CSIRO Science Investment Process and Performance Management Framework as strong governance mechanisms to underpin CSIRO’s delivery of impact from mission-directed research. Dr Robertson also developed CSIRO’s capability development framework.
Dr Robertson has been active in many government committees and working groups including the Food Policy Working Group, the Food Processing and Industry Strategy Group and the Primary Industries Standing Committee.
Dr Alastair Robertson has had active food policy and research interests and has held several government appointments.
Prior to joining CSIRO, Dr Robertson was the Director of the United Kingdom’s Institute of Food Research (IFR) between April 2000 and September 2003. The IFR is the national institute for basic and strategic research into food safety, quality and nutrition.
Dr Robertson has previously held positions in the United Kingdom with:
Sigma Chemical Company (1979–81)
Campden Food and Drink Research Association (1981–92)
Safeway Stores PLC (1992–2000).
Dr Robertson has had active food policy and research interests, and has held several United Kingdom Government appointments. These include:
- UK Food Standards Agency – Advisory Committee on Research
- The Scottish Office (Working Party on Scottish Diet; Scottish Diet Action Group)
- The Office of Science and Technology (Chairman, Foresight, Food Chain and Crops for Industry Panel)
- Ministerial appointment to the Food Standards Agency’s Advisory Committee on Research.
Graduating from the University of Bath in 1973 with an honours degree in Applied Biology, Dr Robertson continued his studies and gained a PhD in plant biochemistry in 1977 from the same university.
He undertook a Postdoctoral Fellowship on tea polyphenol chemistry at the University of Cambridge and the Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa.
Dr Robertson is currently a member of the National Food Innovation Strategy Council. In the past he has been a member of various senior committees including the:
- Council of the Consumers' Association
- Food and Drink Federation's Food Research Policy Group
- University of Reading Board of Food Science and Technology
- Scientific Board of the European Union-funded Centre of Excellence in Food Science for Central Europe
Dr Robertson also holds two academic positions as:
- Honorary Professor, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
- Research Professor, University of Tasmania.
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