Born on December 20, 1959 in Dumfries/Scotland. Study of microbiology Univ. of Glasgow, graduated with First Class Honours (1981), PhD in molecular biology Univ. of Edinburgh (1984), postdoctoral fellowship Univ. of Cologne (1985-1988), Research Group Leader Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge (1989-1990), Research Group Leader John Innes Centre, Norwich (1990-2001), Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (since 2001).