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Warwick HRI

Newsletter April 2009


His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent visits Warwick HRI The Duke of Kent visited Warwick HRI, the University of Warwick’s Plant & Environmental Sciences Department, on the 27 February to see examples of the world-class research and development carried out at the Wellesbourne campus. During his visit, The Duke toured laboratories where he learned about the science behind companion planting and how it is being used commercially to control pests of vegetable crops. He was shown research addressing the world-wide threat to honey bees, looked at how genomics is being applied to crops to improve their sustainability, met with current PhD students and had an introduction to the world of systems biology and how it is being used to understand and model the fundamentals of how plants fight stress and disease.

HRH Duke of Kent visits Warwick HRI


Aaron Abbott wins poster prize


Scholarship Opportunities


Funded PhDs in Life Sciences


New Student Immigration rules


Yiannis Matsoukas talks about his PhD


Postgraduate Open Day


Living with Environmental Change


MSc Study Opportunities


Meet the team


The Duke of Kent displayed a keen interest and understanding in these subjects expressing his support for such valuable research activities. Professor Simon Bright, Head of Department at Warwick HRI commented “I was delighted to have the opportunity to show the Duke of Kent around our facilities and to be able to showcase the commitment of our scientists and the relevance and impact of their research to the major challenges of food security and climate change”.

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Aaron Abbott wins Poster Prize PhD student Aaron Abbott was awarded the top prize in the poster session at the BBSRC workshop ‘Innovation in Crop Science Exploitation of Genetics for Sustainability’ held in January 2009. Aaron is currently working on his PhD ‘Identification of Alleles Conferring Delayed Bolting in Lettuce’. See the poster on our ‘Warwick HRI in print’ page at

Scholarship Opportunities for Postgraduate Taught Masters International Office Scholarships Scholarships of £5,000 are available for overseas fee paying students who have received an offer from the University of Warwick. The closing date for applications is 15 May 2009. offerholders/scholarships

GCRI Trust Scholarship The GCRI Trust scholarship will pay tuition fees for one Home/EU student for an MSc degree at Warwick HRI starting in October 2009. The closing date for applications is 30 June 2009. gcristudentship

Warwick HRI Scholarships Six scholarships worth £3,000 each and one worth £1,000 are available to students applying for a taught MSc degree at Warwick HRI starting in October 2009. The closing date for applications is 30 June 2009. scholarship

Funded PhD in Life Sciences Departments and centres carrying out Life Sciences research at Warwick have joined together and been awarded funding from the BBSRC for a Doctoral Training Grant which will support PhDs in Life Sciences. Involved in this initiative are the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Warwick HRI and the associated centres are Warwick Systems Biology and Warwick Medical School. A spectrum of topics in Life Sciences research is covered from whole-organism animal and plant research to single-molecule structural biology. Interdisciplinary research is an increasingly prominent theme, with numerous groups engaged in collaborative studies addressing small- and large-scale biological problems. Applications are currently being sought for three 4-year funded PhD studentships to join 9 other Warwick Life Sciences students funded by the BBSRC. These three studentship projects will be on research topics in Environmental Biosciences relating to ‘Living with “Environmental Change’ and will start in October 2009. Eligibility is restricted to UK nationals and those of equivalent status (fees paid, plus £13,290 per annum stipend) or EU Nationals (fees only, no stipend). Full details, including a portfolio of available PhD projects, admissions information and eligibility criteria can be found on the website at: Applications will be considered at the end of April 2009. For information on Postgraduate Research Scholarships visit:

Points Based Immigration System Tier 4 of the Points Based Immigration System has now been launched and overseas students wishing to study in the UK or extend their existing permission to do so from 31 March 2009, must meet the requirements of the new immigration rules. For further information, see: Page 2

Yiannis Matsoukas talks about his Phd Studying Plant and Environmental Sciences at Warwick HRI has given me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and ability, and equip me for a bright future career. The international recognition and modern facilities are all guaranteed to make you feel comfortable while studying. My PhD research exploits Antirrhinum and Arabidopsis as plant model systems to understand the genetic and environmental factors that regulate the floral incompetence during juvenile phase. My project has three primary goals: First, to study the effect of environmental factors in assimilation of carbohydrates and their potential involvement on the length of juvenile phase. Second, to determine whether the photoperiod floral induction system is active during the juvenile phase and third, to gain a better understanding of the genetic basis underlying juvenility using Arabidopsis defined mutants and annotated genomes and gene expression data. Understanding the environmental and genetic factors that modify the length of juvenile phase is essential for crop scheduling in commercial horticulture, and in determining the time needed for plant breeding programmes. Throughout my time at Warwick HRI the support and excellent supervision from my supervisors has been invaluable. During that period, I have been encouraged and financially supported by Warwick HRI to present my research findings at national and international conferences. As I approach the end of my research, this has helped me to build a profile in the field and to make contacts for collaborations or even future employment. During my PhD I have also been encouraged to get involved with many activities outside the laboratory. Warwick University boasts a wide range of exciting indoor and outdoor sports facilities and these, together with the well-equipped, purpose-built laboratories, make Warwick HRI an excellent place for undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

Postgraduate Open Day: 25 March 2009 Warwick HRI opened their doors for a Postgraduate Open Day on Wednesday, 25 March and were delighted to see prospective students attending from across the country. The morning’s programme consisted of an informative talk given by Dr Kerry Burton, one of the taught MSc course leaders, followed by a tour of the site and lunch. Course leaders and students were also on hand to answer any questions. Comments received on the Open Day included: ”It was nice meeting you and your fellow colleagues and students yesterday. Thank you for the opportunity to visit Warwick HRI which has supported my decision to submit an application in the next few days.” ”Thank you for a lovely time and it was so informative.” ”It was an excellent visit.” Did you miss our Open Day? Would you like to visit? Why not give us a phone call or drop us an email to arrange a meeting. Email: Telephone No: +44 (0)24 7657 4995

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Living with Environmental Change The University of Warwick: providing knowledge and tools to help people live with environmental change. We are entering a period of unprecedented environmental change that, if not addressed, threatens ecosystems, agriculture, health and our built environment. In response to this challenge, the UK has launched a major ten-year interdisciplinary research and policy programme, LWEC (Living with Environmental Change). As one of the UK’s leading research and teaching establishments, the University of Warwick is ideally placed to address the global issues connected with environmental change. We have a world-class reputation for innovation, enterprise, and partnership. We deliver knowledge and tools to help people adapt to environmental change and develop the low carbon economy. We provide evidence for policy development by governments, industry and civil society. Through our teaching, communication and outreach programmes, we engage with people over the implications, opportunities and solutions to environmental change.

We begin a series outlining our research projects that fit with the objectives of the LWEC programme LWEC Objectives: To predict the impacts of climate change, mitigate or adapt to these and manage extreme events. To manage ecosystems for human well-being and protect the natural environment as it changes. To promote human wellbeing, alleviate poverty and minimise waste by ensuring a sustainable supply of food and water. To protect human, plant and animal health from diseases, pests and environmental hazards.

To make infrastructure, the built environment and transport systems resilient to environmental change. To help people from different cultural and social backgrounds respond to a changing environment.

Biorefining plant waste for energy & chemical feedstocks - led by Dr Kerry Burton The millions of tonnes of plant and forestry waste produced in the UK and Europe each year should not be viewed as a negative problem but an opportunity for bioconversion to high value chemical and energy feedstocks. A new concept biorefinery is being developed with low energy inputs to degrade the lignocellulose polymers using microbes by solid-state fermentation followed by liquid extraction of solubilised chemicals: phenolics, organic acids and sugars. This represents a paradigm shift from the high input alternative systems and overcomes critical bottlenecks associated with degrading lignocellulose. This research is interdisciplinary involving fungal genomics and transciptomics, solid-state fermentation, chemical extraction, conversion and biorefinery design. The research is aimed at extracting maximum value from land-based activity, developing alternatives to and reducing dependency on fossil fuel based energy and chemicals. The economic and social consequences of this work are also under investigation. The efficiency of this bioconversion process is enhanced by complementary research into the biology of soil and leaf litter fungi in nutrient translocation, metabolism and re-cycling. This work is aimed at understanding how fungi respond to environmental change in terms of temperature, CO2, organic volatiles and carbon sequestered as humic substances. Fungal morphogenesis, growth and metabolism are being examined by gene expression profiling, identification of gene function and promoter analysis.

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MSc study opportunities


arwick HRI is dedicated to academic excellence in plant and microbial sciences and the application of research to improve crops and the environment. Teaching and research are underpinned by core capabilities in mathematical biology, biometrics, genomics and bioinformatics.

MSc Environmental Bioscience in a Changing Climate Exploiting natural resources affects the global climate, agricultural production and biodiversity. This course explores solutions for the sustainable provision of food, materials, energy and landscape in a changing global environment.

MSc Enterprise in Horticulture

This course is designed for those seeking a career in businesses involved in growing, supplying and marketing fresh produce in competitive markets. A commercial placement or research project enables students to put research skills into practice, matching skills and business needs.

MSc Plant Bioscience for Crop Production

Global improvements in crop production depend on the knowledge-led application of plant science and biotechnology. This course provides you with cutting-edge research skills across a broad range of plant science disciplines.

MSc by Research

This is a practical course based on a research project under the supervision a research leader. Warwick HRI’s extensive facilities offer the chance to use the latest technologies for innovative personal study. If you are interested in this degree, please contact an appropriate research leader or the Director of Graduate Studies.

MSc Email enquiries: Page 5

Meet the team... Professor Richard Napier Director of Graduate Studies Course Leader: MSc Enterprise in Horticulture

Dr Stephen Jackson Director of Postgraduate Research

Dr Kerry Burton Course Leader: MSc Plant Bioscience for Crop Production

Mr Andrew Mead Course Leader: MSc Modelling Biological Populations and Interactions

Dr Paul Neve Course Leader: MSc Environmental Bioscience in a Changing Climate

Dr Gary Bending Course Leader: BSc Environmental Biology

Miss Nikki Glover Postgraduate Co-ordinator

Mrs Denny Croft MSc Teaching Co-ordinator

Useful websites University of Warwick: Warwick HRI: Postgraduate study: Undergraduate study: International Office: Take a Tour of Warwick HRI: Preview Podcasts:

Warwick HRI The University of Warwick Wellesbourne Warwickshire CV35 9EF UNITED KINGDOM Phone: + 44 (0)2476 574455 Fax: +44 (0) 2476 574500 MSc Email Enquiries: PhD Email Enquiries: BSc Email Enquiries: Page 6

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