Scientific Advisory Board (SAB)


A group of external members characterized by their strategic vision and selected among internationally recognized experts on their field, encompassing the main three areas of IRTA activity: Plant Production, Animal Production and Food Industries. The SAB members are nominated by the IRTA’s CEO and appointed by the Board of Directors for a period of 3 years, renewable. The president of the Scientific Advisory Board is designated among the SAB members for a 3-year period renewable.


The main task of the Scientific Advisory Board is to provide advice and guidance to orient IRTA R+D activities to cope with the mission of the institute. The SAB members are involved in the evaluation panels that every few years assess on the Strategic Plan of the IRTA Areas. Some members are also appointed to participate in the integral review and evaluation of IRTA performed periodically by the CERCA system. The Scientific Advisory Board reviews and monitors the scientific activities of the Areas and Programs, giving advice and guidance, if needed, regarding the performance of scientists and the recruiting of new talent. The SAB provides also guidance to other topics proposed by IRTA’s CEO.


SAB members meet on a regular basis once a year with the Scientific Director and researchers on a three-days meeting to carry out the mission stated above.

SAB members

President: Rubén Echeverría

Ruben G. Echeverria is Director General Emeritus of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT, Colombia). He has worked in agricultural, environmental and rural development issues at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB, Washington DC), at the Science Council of the CGIAR (FAO, Rome) and at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI, Washington DC).

Ruben is currently a Senior Advisor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a member of several global panels and professional associations. Echeverria studied agronomy in Uruguay and agricultural economics in the US and has professional experience in agricultural innovation, sustainable food systems, capacity building of national agricultural and extension systems, monitoring and evaluation and management of agricultural research for development.

Margarita Arboix

Margarita Arboix was Rector of the UAB from 2016 to 2020. Born in Ribesalbes, Castellón on 1 August 1950. With a Degree in Biology from the University of Barcelona and a PhD in Biology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, in 1976 she joined the Department of Pharmacology at the UAB Faculty of Medicine. She has devoted her teaching and research career to the area of pharmacology, and in 1993 she was made a full professor of the UAB. She was Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Director of the Department of Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Toxicology. She was Deputy Director General of Veterinary Medicines at the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products of the Ministry for Health
and Consumer Affairs, and was also Director of Regional Health Services in Barcelona. She was appointed Director General for Agriculture and Husbandry of the Ministry for the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs. She formed part of the European Committee on Veterinary Medicine of the European Medicines Agency and chaired the European Group for Antimicrobial Resistance, and was also a member on the Expert Panel on Animal Feed Additives of the European Food Security Agency and the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Food Security and Nutrition Agency. In 2019 she was appointed member of the Royal Academy of Pharmacy of Catalonia.

Christine Cherbut

Christine Cherbut has been Deputy Director General, for science and innovation, of the French National Institute of Research for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE, former INRA) from 2017 to 2021. Educated in biochemistry engineering and holding a PhD in gastrointestinal physiology, she was the head of the Human Nutrition Research Centre in Nantes, where she developed activities turned toward exploring new science frontiers (e.g. health impact of the intestinal microbiota) and translational research for informing public policies (she was vice-president of the human nutrition committee at the French Agency for Food Safety) and for industrial innovation.

In 2003, she joined Nestlé in Switzerland where she was the head of the corporate division “Scientific Support and Nutrition”. There she developed the scientific basis of the program “Nutrition, Health and Wellness” covering more than 100 countries, and built an international network of nutritionists aiming at translating R&D deliverables into commercial products and services. She returned to INRA in 2011 where, as scientific director for food, nutrition and bioeconomy, she has contributed to boost research for developing healthy, safe and sustainable food systems and to foster an environment conducive to innovation. She continues to work at INRAE and is currently preparing a scientific and organizational foresight study on research for human nutrition in France, Europe and the world.

Johan Six

Johan Six is the chair of the Sustainable Agroecosystems Group at ETH-Zurich. He is a Chancelor’s Fellow of the University of California – Davis, a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Philippe Duchaufour medallist in Soil Science of the European Geoscience Union, a Distinguished Ecologist of Colorado State University, and on the 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list of the Web of Science.

Before joining ETH-Zurich, he developed his line of research with a focus on the feedback between ecosystem management options, global change, and biogeochemical cycling. Later, he has continued the research program with more of an emphasis on landscape analyses and global Food Security. More specifically, he studies the complex interactions between soil, soil biota, and the carbon and nitrogen cycles in terrestrial ecosystems, especially agroecosystems. His general approach is to conduct experimental work from the micro- to landscape scale and subsequently integrate it with modelling to interpolate and extrapolate it to the regional and global scale. The modelling has also as goals to identify gaps in our knowledge, generate testable hypotheses, and test the mechanistic bases of biogeochemical models. Furthermore, many projects he conducts are in collaboration with economic and social scientist to holistically assess the sustainability and resilience of agricultural production and food systems.

Richard GF Visser

Richard GF Visser is Chair & Head Plant Breeding at Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands. He is Elected Member of Koninklijke Hollandse Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (2015 for life), Board Member (2012- present), President (2016-2020) and past President (2020-2024) of EUCARPIA, Member of the Academic Board of Wageningen University (2010-2018) and Board Member of European Association of Potato Researchers (2008-2016), among others.

His research interests are in improving efficiency and efficacy of breeding programs by deploying new technologies such as genomic information, gene editing techniques and artificial intelligence. Plant developmental biology (including architectural traits) and using genetics and genomics to address biological questions in crop plants which should lead to the design of high yielding crops with excellent quality to be able to be produced in all kinds of environments in a sustainable fashion for different types of agriculture and horticulture -like strip cropping and mixed cropping, but also controlled environmental agriculture- are study targets.