NIAB Hosts HGCA Symposium for PhD Students

2 May 2008

NIAB hosted an HGCA Symposium for PhD students throughout the UK who were able to showcase their agricultural research projects.

HGCA, which promotes improvements in the production of UK cereals and oilseeds, is actively involved in raising the profile of agricultural R&D within the young science community.

It is currently sponsoring 23 PhD students on a wide range of projects from crop production to human and animal nutrition.

It is the first time NIAB has hosted this annual event and one of its own PhD students, Jon White, was the first to outline his research project entitled: “The exploitation of historic wheat variety data by association genetics approaches”.

He said the symposium provided a great opportunity to learn from fellow PhD students about their projects and support each other.

“I am presenting as a first year student and will be very interested to see what 2nd and 3rd year students have achieved and how high the bar is being set. The majority of the topics have an agricultural theme. However, mine is unusual as most of the statistics I am using come from human genetics, though that isn’t obvious from the title.

“Members of the HGCA R & D Committee are also here for the presentations as they naturally want to see how their money is being spent. Hopefully, they will be very impressed.”

Prof Graham Jellis, HGCA Research Director, said they have been sponsoring students for the last eight years to help encourage a new generation of crop scientists and attract “good, young people into applied science.”

He said:

“Every year we invite the students to come together and talk about their research and see how they are progressing. They also make a presentation so they get to know each other’s work. This is a great opportunity for them to talk about what they are doing and learn something more about their areas of science. We want to encourage the next generation of crop scientists, whose role is becoming increasing vital to ensure we have quality food for the future, and that it is produced in an environmentally friendly way.”

Prof Wayne Powell, Chief Executive of NIAB, said the students’ presentations demonstrated the high quality of research projects being undertaken in the UK.

The students who attended came from Rothamsted, Harper Adams, Central Science Laboratory, John Innes Centre, IGER and SAC, as well as several universities. First year students gave brief talks and third year students made longer presentations. Those in the second year presented their results as posters.

For further information please contact Dr Tina Barsby

Press enquiries can also be made to Ellee Seymour, 01353 648564 or 07939 811961