Staff news: Welcomes and goodbyes

Kathrin Heimbach
We welcome Kathrin, who started as a researcher in the Markets and Business Team at the end of August. Kathrin is originally from Germany but came to the UK last year to do a Masters in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security at the RAU and is currently finishing her thesis on sustainable grazing management. She grew up with farming in the family and this led to her taking a degree in Agricultural Sciences, with a focus on organic farming, at the University of Hohenheim near Stuttgart.
Kathrin’s role is to provide a deeper insight into consumer behaviour, organic markets and the issues along organic value chains. She is working on the Organic at the Heart (OATH) as well as the Organic Marketing project.

Christian Gossel
Christian joined us as a Summer intern as part of the research team looking into the role of agroforestry in relation to climate change. This work is part of the wider AGROMIX project which covers multiple sites across Europe. His time has been split into two periods. For the first three weeks he was based at Wakelyns Agroforestry collecting data on trees, crops, soils, and their management. The second half of his work has been spent formatting this data for entry into the Hi-sAFe model, which simulates an agroforestry scenario over various timescales and climate predictions.

Chiara Tuoni
We say goodbye to Chiara Tuoni, our Research Communicator, who started working at ORC in 2019 to deliver the toolbox for sheep and goat sustainability. Chiara drew upon her varied experience to translate our research project results into visually impactful outputs, with a strong focus on inspired digital communcation to support the transition to organic farming.
Bringing Italian passion and a keen eye for detail, ORC will miss her valuable contribution to the team and wish her luck in her next steps as she embarks on a move to France and career change.

Ambrogio (Ambro) Costanzo
At the end of the year ORC will also be saying arrivederci or perhaps au revoir to Dr Ambrogio (Ambro) Costanzo, our Principal Researcher in Crop Diversity & Agronomy and Deputy Head of Research. After seven stellar years at ORC, Ambro is heading to ITAB, France’s Organic Food and Farming Institute.
Happily, from ITAB Ambro will continue to partner with ORC on ongoing European collaborations including LIVESEEDING: a new four-year project funded by Horizon Europe and focused on organic seed and plant breeding to accelerate sustainable and diverse food systems in Europe. This builds on our work on collaborative farm trials empowering farmers to conduct their own variety testing whilst feeding into the development of data and tools for evidence-based decision-support. Ambro led the Crops team at ORC in this pioneering approach through projects such as LiveWheat, LIVESEED and LiveOat. At the heart, this work has demonstrated the power of collective experimentation to deliver robust and insightful scientific results that can make major headway in understanding and improving the performance and resilience of arable cropping systems.

Armed with his trusty metre ruler, there is nothing that Ambro enjoyed more than getting out on ‘real farms’ to unpick the intricacies of individual farming systems as part of a collective whole, but Ambro’s skills are varied: from communication to statistics, financial control to strategic development. This often drew him into a range of activities, and he has been a keystone of the organisation. ORC’s loss is ITAB’s gain. Adieu et bonne chance, mon ami.

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