SCRR / RSE Peter Wilson Lecture 2024

Food for thought: food security in changing times

May 7, 2024 • 5pm

Royal Society of Edinburgh


Booking and full details, RSE website

By 2050, the world must feed two billion more people. Achieving food security means that all people, at all times, have reliable physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.

After a period of progress in the number of people living in food insecurity globally, the situation has worsened again over the last few years – due to growing climate and other environmental shocks, conflicts, and rises in food prices in many parts of the world.

In response to this urgent need and worrying regression, the annual Peter Wilson event, organised in collaboration between the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Consortium of Rural Research, aims to delve into the pivotal questions, obstacles, and potential solutions surrounding this complex issue. Distinguished experts will explore innovative strategies and foster dialogue towards achieving lasting solutions towards global food security.


Prof Rachel Norman

Professor Rachel Norman FRSE

Chair of Food Security and Sustainability, Institutional Dean for Research Engagement and Performance, University of Stirling

Rachel Norman received a BSc Hons in Mathematics from the University of Liverpool in 1991 and then did a PhD in mathematical biology there, graduating in 1995. She spent a year as a postdoc in the zoology department in Oxford before coming to the University of Stirling in 1996 as a lecturer in the department of Computing Science and Mathematics. Her research focuses on mathematical models of infectious disease dynamics and control. Most of her work has been in animal disease, with specific expertise in tick-borne infections. In 2013, she was promoted to the position of Professor of Food Security and Sustainability. Her more recent focus has been interdisciplinary approaches to food security, including community growing systems. From a mathematical point of view she is working on trade-offs in the food system. Rachel was made a Fellow of the RSE in 2023.


Dr Peter Alexander

Dr Peter Alexander

Senior Lecturer of Global Food Security, University of Edinburgh

Peter Alexander is a Senior Lecturer of Global Food Security at the University of Edinburgh. His work focuses on modelling food and land use systems to better understand the social, economic, and environmental interactions of supply, demand, and trade, as well as the competition for land between agriculture, forests, and conservation. He led the development of the Land System Modular Model (LandSyMM), was a Lead Author for the 2022 IPCC Working Group II report and is a Coordinating Lead Author on UNEP’s 7th Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-7).

Dr Wu Huang

Wu Huang specialised in plant and insect genomics. Her doctoral research at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh focused on developing cutting-edge methods for analysing multi-locus nuclear sequence data in plants for species identification. Such an approach would be desirable for developing the next wave of plant DNA barcoding tools and ultimately a standardise version of plant DNA barcode 2.0. Previously, she assembled reference genomes for important food crops like potato and cucumber, which enunciated the genomic basis of important agronomic traits in these crops. As a postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Wu Huang is currently applying her genomics skills to study mosquitoes in the fight against malaria.