Our Expert Team

Xelect has a talented team of scientific staff, with strong expertise in molecular biology, bio-informatics and aquaculture. We also have experienced financial, admin and business development personnel

Prof. Ian A. Johnston


Ian is internationally recognised as one of the world’s leading fish physiologists. He has published more than 350 research papers during his academic career and has a long history of working with the aquaculture industry. Before becoming full-time CEO of Xelect he was Chandos Professor and Director of the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews (1997-2016), member of the Natural Research Council of the UK (1995-2000) and President of the Society for Experimental Biology, one of Europe’s leading learned societies and publishing companies (2007-9).

Dr Tom Ashton


Tom has a PhD from University of St Andrews, with a thesis entitled ‘The genetic basis of flesh quality traits in farmed Atlantic salmon’.

Tom is co-inventor of the Xelect genetic markers and of the tensile method of texture analysis. He has broad experience in marine biology, aquaculture and molecular biology.

Dr Rachael Wilbourn


Rachael was awarded a PhD in Evolution and Behaviour from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. She specialises in population genetics and is highly skilled in a range of molecular techniques and data analysis. She obtained a BSc in Zoology and MRes in Crops for the Future from the University of Dundee.

Dr Francesca Tedeschi


Francesca has a BSc. MSc (First Class Honours Cell and Molecular Biology) and PhD (molecular biotechnology) from Tuscia University, Before joining Xelect she worked for 5 years as a postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Leibniz Institute in Germany.

Dr José Mota-Velasco


José has more than 10 years experience working for major aquaculture genetics firms. During this time, he has held several managerial positions involving genetics, genomics and management of breeding programmes for marine and freshwater species. At Xelect, José is delivering comprenhensive, specialist support to our customers breeding programmes. He obtained an MSc and PhD in genetics in Aquaculture from the University of Stirling.

Dr Marie Smedley


Marie has a PhD in Atlantic salmon biology from the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling’s Reproduction and Genetics Group. Marie has commercial experience working with producers such as MOWI and Biomar and has a broad range of computer analytical and fish husbandry skills. At Xelect Marie ensures that our breeding management customers around the world are met with professional support and advice through close liaison.

Dr Stelios Kyriakidis


Stelios has a PhD in bioinformatics from the University of Dundee and “The James Hutton” institute, with expertise in next-generation sequencing data analysis, variant detection in relation to domestication, evolution and their use for the improvement of breeding programmes. At Xelect, Stelios is responsible for the analysis of NGS data, developing computational tools and building/managing databases holding vast amount of information coming from our customers and the associated data analysis.

Dr Christopher Hollenbeck


Chris has a strong background in population genetics and bioinformatics. He specialises in applying genomics to aquaculture breeding programmes. At Xelect, Chris is responsible for driving our continuous innovation and leading our scientific team. He obtained a Ph.D. in Genetics from Texas A&M University, and was a post-doctoral researcher at St Andrews University.

Dr Akis Varypatakis


Akis holds a PhD in crop genetics from The James Hutton Institute and University of St Andrews. He has expertise in genomic analysis using next-generation sequencing techniques, and the analysis of genetic data.

At Xelect he brings his experience to our lab team, mainly involved with developing assays and preparing libraries for amplicon sequencing.

Dave Cooper


Dave qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young and has spent most of his career in commercial roles in the UK. He was Finance Director of AIM listed Dawson International plc, an international textiles group, and has operated his own consultancy business providing financial resource to companies in a variety of sectors. He is currently a Non-Executive Director of Leeds Group plc and chairs their audit committee.

Anne Shaw


Anne held several PA and administrative positions in South Africa before returning home to Scotland.

Dionisio Ramos


Dionisio is an experienced professional of the Chilean salmon farming industry and a former manager at Landcatch. He is based in our office in Puerto Montt, Chile.