Inaugural TMAF PhD student starts at NIAB

6 Oct 2020

NIAB has welcomed The Morley Agricultural Foundation's first fully-funded PhD student, who will be based at NIAB's Cambridge site with regular visits to TMAF in Norfolk.

Harvey Armstrong will be studying the effects of legume rotations on soil microbial populations - involving field sampling, molecular biology and computational studies. This inaugural studentship ties in with TMAF’s long-term interests in soil quality.

His supervisors are NIAB's Dr Tom Wood, the University of Cambridge's Dr Nik Cunniffe and TMAF's Dr Steve Rawsthorne. Harvey will develop his academic and wider skills alongside the PhD students enrolled in the BBSRC DTP programme at the University of Cambridge and NIAB.

Dr Rawsthorne said: "The new TMAF Studentship Programme is an important development for the charity that adds significantly to its overall portfolio of funding. The aim is to fund one PhD student each year, leading to a rolling cohort of four, fully-funded, farmer-led, research studentships over a four-year PhD training cycle. The hope is that the students will be able to support each other and form a strong relationship with TMAF into the future."

TMAF created the studentship programme to further focus its funding objectives on educational research rather than funding ad-hoc research applications, although these will still be supported. TMAF worked with NIAB to select two potential topics for consideration by the Plant Science Graduate Studies Committee regarding their suitability for PhD training, selecting a favourite that was endorsed by the Committee.

The new programme also gives TMAF greater impact and visibility in its funding objectives. The funding source and designation of the PhD Studentship is clearly acknowledged and will be recognised throughout the training programme and in the publication of results from the studies. It will ensure, through strategic relationships with BBSRC and other Research Council-funded Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTP), quality assurance on the overall training programme and administration of the student.

Harvey completed an Integrated Masters in Biological Sciences at Cardiff University in 2020.