Dr. David Ross Appleton, 49, a New Zealander, was appointed as Chief Research & Development Officer of Sime Darby Plantation Berhad (SDP) on 1 January 2024, bringing over 25 years of experience in this field.
Dr. Appleton’s journey with SDP Research & Development (R&D) started in 2010 when he joined as the Head of Applied Chemistry at the Sime Darby Technology Centre. In 2015, he assumed the role of Head, Biotechnology and Breeding, overseeing the development and commercialisation of GenomeSelectTM and other genetics, breeding, and biotechnology programmes.
In 2020, Dr. Appleton assumed the role of Head, Product Innovation and Development in Sime Darby Oils, the downstream division of SDP. He was later appointed Deputy Chief R&D Officer of SDP in June 2023.
Dr. Appleton’s career traces back to 1996, when he began as a Process Engineer and climbed the ranks to become the Steelmaking Production Team Leader at BHP New Zealand Steel. In 2003, he joined MerLion Pharmaceuticals Pte Ltd, initially as a Senior Research Scientist and later served as Principal Research Scientist. He was instrumental in developing and implementing an automated high-throughput extract fingerprinting system to assess productivity and chemical diversity within extracts.
Dr. Appleton relocated to Malaysia in 2008 on attachment to Universiti Malaya with the Centre of Natural Products Research and Drug Discovery.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Organic and Physical Chemistry from the University of Auckland (1997) and earned his PhD in Chemistry from the same institution in 2003.