John Pickett

John Pickett, CBE, DSc, FRS

John Pickett

After completing his BSc and PhD degrees at the University of Surrey and post-doctoral research at UMIST (now University of Manchester), John started his professional career with the Brewing Research Foundation and then in 1976 he moved to Rothamsted Experimental Station (now Rothamsted Research) to lead a team working on pheromones and other semiochemicals for new methods of pest control. He was appointed Head of the Insecticides and Fungicides Department (now the Department of Biological Chemistry) in 1984, and concurrently in 2007 Scientific Director of the Rothamsted Centre for Sustainable Pest and Disease Management. In 2010, he relinquished these administrative positions on being awarded the first Michael Elliott Distinguished Research Fellowship at Rothamsted. As well as fulfilling this prestigious new role, he continues to lead the research into chemical ecology and is still very much personally involved with day-to-day research activities in the UK and around the world. He has over 390 publications and patents.

Current work centres on the chemical ecology of interactions between insects and their plant or animal hosts. This specifically involves the chemical characterization of molecular structures for semiochemicals that influence the development and behavior of insects and some other organisms. Research extends to the biochemistry and molecular biology of secondary plant metabolites that act as semiochemicals and the sensory mechanisms by which they are detected by insects. More recently, his interests have turned to devising ways of linking genomics, through novel approaches, to the metabolites of insects and their hosts. His recent practical successes include a program for controlling stem borer pests and striga weeds in East Africa, involving exploiting the natural semiochemical production by certain companion crops, thereby sustainably increasing food production. Additional information on John’s research can be found at

John Pickett’s contribution to the field of chemical ecology has been acknowledged with the 1995 Rank Prize for Nutrition and Crop Husbandry, election to Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1996, International Society of Chemical Ecology Medal 2002, appointment to CBE for services to Biological Chemistry in 2004, and the prestigious Wolf Foundation Prize in Agriculture in 2008, among many other international measures of esteem. He also presents his work around the world, including the Royal Society’s premier lecture in the biological sciences, The Croonian Prize Lecture, in 2008 and Cornell University Lecture in 2009.

Further details:

Rothamsted Centre for Sustainable Pest and Disease Management, and Rothamsted Research,
Herts., AL5 2JQ
United Kingdom
Tel: +44-1582 763133 x2320
Nationality: British

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