Dr Rex Brennan is the senior fruit breeder at MRS and heads up the Soft Fruit Genetics and Pathology Programme at JHI. He has more than 25 years experience of fruit breeding and has published more than 60 papers in the scientific literature.
In addition to breeding blackcurrants for both the fresh and processing sectors, he also breeds gooseberries and redcurrants. His biggest successes to date include the varieties Ben Hope and Ben Gairn.
Through a collaboration with Prof Jim Luby in the USA he has also bred rust-resistant varieties of blackcurrants that soon will be released in North America. As well as being an internationally recognised fruit breeder, he also maintains an active research portfolio and has pioneered the development and deployment of molecular markers in blackcurrant and investigated the potential effects of climate change on blackcurrant production. He was awarded the Scottish Horticultural Medal by the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society in 2007 and was a previous holder of the Jones-Bateman Cup from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Nikki Jennings is the raspberry and blackberry breeder at MRS. She joined MRS in 1996 after completing a degree in ecological sciences from the University of Edinburgh. She rapidly gained the respect of a soft fruit industry that was in severe decline at the time and has developed into one of the leading raspberry breeders in the world.
Nikki combines her knowledge of plant physiology and agronomy with an excellent understanding of modern molecular techniques that has resulted in the development of varieties such as Glen Fynne and Glen Doll.
Nikki is a regular presenter at fruit events and talks with passion about her promising selections all of which she knows intimately.
The newest recruit to the MRS fruit breeding team is Dorota Jarret.
Dorota graduated in 2006 from the Agricultural University of Szczecin, Poland, with a degree in horticulture and a specialism in fruit cultivation.
After graduating, she gained several years experience in the soft fruit industry in Scotland as an agronomist and is BASIS and FACTS qualified. She joined MRS in December 2010 as a trainee fruit breeder/field geneticist, undertaking a part-time PhD in genetic control of processing quality traits in blackcurrant under the supervision of Dr Rex Brennan.