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 Latin-American Center for Rural Development (RIMISP, Chile).

Ruben is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI, Washington DC) from where he is involved in the development and implementation of an FAO food and agriculture innovation agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean. He chairs the Scientific Advisory Board of the Catalan Institute of Food and Agricultural Research and Technology (IRTA, Spain) and the global Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (CoSAI). He is a member of several global councils 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.

Declan J. Troy

Dr. Declan J Troy is the Assistant Director of Research, Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority with special responsibility for science based knowledge transfer to the food sector. He is a Chartered Chemist of the Royal Society of Chemistry and completed his post graduate studies at University College Dublin in 1986 investigating the biochemistry of muscle proteases as a function of pH. He later became Head of the Meat Science Department in The National Food Centre, Dublin.

The main focus of his research was on the biochemistry of muscle proteins and their effects on meat tenderness. His work has contributed to the introduction of new technologies at industrial level particularly in Irelands competitive beef sector. He has coordinated numerous EU meat science projects. Currently he is the Director of the Marine Functional Food Research Initiative (NutraMara) a multidisciplinary programme aimed at discovering bioactive components from Irish marine sources for use in added value functional food products. Declan also holds the post of Vice President of the Institute of Food Science and Technology in Ireland.

Pippa Heylings

Pippa Heylings is CEO and Founder, Talking Transformation Ltd ( She served as facilitator during the creation of the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve (Ecuador) and its Management Plan. Since 2006, she worked in Fundacion Futuro Latinoamericano (FFLA), an organization dedicated to collaborative dialogue and conflict transformation towards sustainable development, as Director of Strategic Initiatives, and later as Executive Director (2009-2012).

From 2010, she was Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), and in 2015 became the Lead for Policy and Practice. In 2013 she founded Talking Transformation Ltd, which works internationally to facilitate change towards a sustainable, low carbon and climate resilient world through: multi-stakeholder dialogue and advocacy for change in international treaties, national-level public policy and action plans, public-private cooperation and multi-scale institutional arrangements for climate, development and natural resource management, linking the local to the global. Pippa holds a master degree on environmental education from Rhodes University, and has written several articles and publications about governance and conflict management.

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.