June 2020

LGC food forensic expert honoured by Queen’s University

Dr Michael Walker, Head of the Office of the UK Government Chemist, has had the title ‘Professor of Practice’ conferred on him from Queen's University, Belfast.

A graduate of Queen’s, Sussex and Kingston universities, Prof Walker has always maintained close links with the university, collaborating on many projects throughout the years. He worked alongside on the ‘Elliott Review’ with Professor Chris Elliot, looking into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks in the aftermath of the 2013 horsemeat incident.

Michael Walker, Referee Analyst and Head of the Office of the UK Government Chemist receives honour from Queen's University

Professor Walker said: “I am deeply honoured. It is a privilege to support the Institute for Global Food Security and Queens University Belfast. I look forward to continuing my work alongside those at the forefront of food safety, authenticity and sustainability, which I enjoy immensely. It is also a reflection of the high standards of science in the Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC).”

Prof Walker joined the Government Chemist programme in 2006 and is experienced in the fields of public strategy and policy. Previously, he acted as the Public Analyst for Northern Ireland for nearly 20 years (1986 to 2004), before spending a short period as Chief Executive of Forensic Science NI.

He has collaborated with a number of scientists from the Institute for Global Food Security at QUB on research projects and publications, and he contributes to the supervision of final-year undergraduate projects alongside IGFS Emeritus Professor, Duncan Thorburn Burns.

A champion of forensic measurement science, particularly as it applies to food allergens and authenticity, he remains a very active (and past local Chair) of the Institute of Food Science & Technology and was awarded an honorary Fellowship of IFST. 

In parallel, he has been a non-executive Director with the Consumer Council, a founder Board member of the Food Standards Agency and a Board member of AFBI, the Agrifood Biosciences Institute for NI. Prof Walker applies his science in his own chemico-legal consultancy as an expert witness.

A lifelong advocate for educating the public and sharing knowledge, Prof Walker has appeared on numerous radio and television programmes, including Sky News, Food Unwrapped and BBC World Service, as well as hosting an annual week-long residential course on the work of Public Analysts at the University of Reading.

Professor Nigel Scollan, Director of IGFS, said the honorary professorship was a fitting acknowledgement of Dr Walker’s contribution. “Michael has given strong support and assistance to Queen’s over many years. We have benefitted from his insights into the bioanalysis of food allergens and in many other key food-safety and authenticity research areas and I look forward to continuing close collaboration.”