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Opening the door to

Warwick HRI New School of Life Sciences From October 2010 the Departments of Warwick HRI and Biological Sciences will be integrated into a new School of Life Sciences, creating exciting opportunities for multidisciplinary study and research.

Student Achievements Sajjad Awan, a 3rd year PhD student was awarded a travel grant from the Food and Agricultural Organisation as sponsors of the Interdrought III conference in Shanghai in October 2009. The FAO awarded these grants to researchers under 40 years of age from developing countries. The awards were based on scientific significance, abstract quality, innovation in research, conomic condition and potential ability for future.

Student Newsletter January 2010

Contents School of Life Sciences


Student Achievements


Warwick Interactive


Warwick HRI Podcasts/Videos


From MSc to PhD and from PhD to staff member


New MSc courses


MSc Study Opportunities


Meet the team


Cahyo Prayogo, a first year PhD student in Gary Bending’s group, won the prize for best poster at the conference ‘Soil quality =environmental quality?’ in Wexford, Ireland (9-11 Sept) for his poster ‘Quantifying the effect of land use change on soil organic matter quality’.

Luke Bell was featured in the UK’s ‘Horticulture Week’ publication on 16 October. Luke is working with Warwick HRI and Elsoms Seeds under a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) where companies link up with academic institutions to access skills of new graduates by way of a specific project. The main aim of this KTP project is to speed up the time taken to produce new parsnip varieties by adapting techniques common in other crops, such as carrots. Luke is also using this opportunity to complete an MSc by Research. Page 1

Warwick Interactive Want to know more about Warwick? Exploring your study options? Sign up for YourWarwick where you can choose the information you’re looking for and we’ll send it to your very own personal portal page. We’ll send you the latest information about your interests, our campus and the student experience at Warwick along with tailored subject information. We’re here to help you make the right choice.

University of Warwick is on Facebook

University of Warwick is on Twitter University of Warwick is on myspace

University of Warwick is on You Tube

Warwick HRI Podcasts/Videos Listen to Warwick HRI Postgraduate Study podcasts from Professor Brian Thomas, Dr Kerry Burton and Professor Richard Napier (pictured left to right)

View Warwick HRI Postgraduate Study videos from Eman Calleja, Laura Atkinson and Stuart McHattie (pictured left to right)

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From MSc student to PhD student: Charlotte Nellist... PhD title: “Deploying virus resistance in Brassicas and understanding the interaction between the viral VPg protein and Brassica eIF4E and eIF(iso)4E proteins” Whilst studying for an MSc in Plant Bioscience for Crop Production at Warwick HRI, I was offered several PhD opportunities and chose this particular PhD because it was something that really interested me during the plant pathology module of the MSc course. Turnip mosaic virus (TuMV) is a huge constraint on the cultivation of a wide range of plant species worldwide. It causes significant economic losses in Brassica species such as Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa), which is one of the most important vegetable crops in Asia. TuMV is transmitted by aphids in a non-persistent manner when probing and feeding. Chemical control of aphids is not sufficient or practical to stop the spread of TuMV as its affect on the aphids is not immediate. Natural plant resistance is therefore the only realistic method of controlling this devastating virus. This study aims to understand broad-spectrum resistance to TuMV and work with Syngenta Seeds to incorporate this resistance into commercial lines of B. rapa. The basis of the resistance will be investigated by studying the interaction of the TuMV protein linked to the viral genome (VPg) and the eukaryotic initiation factors (eIF) of B. rapa. The VPg is able to bind to the eIFs and thereby initiate the translation of the positive-sense RNA genome of the virus into the constitutive proteins by the host plant. The VPg protein appears to be able to mimic the cap structure of messenger RNA. Studying for an MSc at Warwick HRI exposed me to lots of different avenues of research and has given me the chance to work with experts in a variety of fields. This PhD, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Syngenta Seeds, will give me opportunities to gain invaluable experiences in industry as it will involve working with a multinational company. It also offers me the chance to network and work in different environments, including working at Syngenta laboratories outside of the United Kingdom.

... and from PhD student to staff member: Andy Taylor Andy Taylor’s PhD at Warwick HRI was entitled “Functional Genomics of Photoperiodic Bulb Initiation in Onion”. This involved the isolation and characterisation of genes predicted to be involved in onion bulb initiation. Having obtained his PhD in 2009, Andy has now been appointed as a Research Fellow in the Department and is currently working on the DEFRAfunded project entitled “Vegetable Genetic Improvement Network: Prebreeding research to support sustainable farming of carrot and onion”. His role within the project is in the screening of an onion genetic diversity set for a range of agronomic traits including seed and seedling vigour and resistance to Fusarium basal rot. His work also involves screening the diversity set for growth and nutritional responses to arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. The diversity set will then be genotypically characterised (using SNP markers) and this data combined with the phenotypic data. Page 3

New MSc courses for 2010 Food Security This MSc can help you make a difference! Delivering global food security and access to affordable, safe and nutritious food, is one of the critical challenges of the 21st century. This course will give you an understanding of the elements that contribute to the food security agenda. Each nation needs to balance local and delocalised production with imports and environmental impact. Suppliers need to ensure year-long provision at both low cost and high quality for discerning and needy consumers. Climate change and world population growth put pressure on governments, producers and consumers to plan ahead for food security. The skills and disciplines required to address these issues will be delivered from the natural and social sciences developing a new generation of innovative thinking. The MSc will draw together critical components such as the contribution of climate change, biodiversity, water, soil, land use, labour, nutrition transition and urbanisation. On • • • •

completion successful candidates will be able to: Understand the global challenges of food security Develop a critical understanding of the driving forces of food policy and practice in a global context Evaluate the contribution to crop losses from pests and diseases Understand and critically evaluate environmental accounting, environmental regulation and ecosystem service provision • Understand the factors improving soil, air and water quality and recognise their roles in fresh food production and society values • Understand the changing roles and responsibilities of the state, producer and consumer • Understand the contribution organic and low imput systems can play in agricultural food production

Sustainable Crop Production: Agronomy for the 21st Century Crop agriculture provides mankind’s increasing population with foods, fibres and fuel. This course provides the knowledge and practical skills for how crops are improved, grown and managed. It will also give you the understanding and background to allow you to adapt to future industry changes influenced by climate change, pressure on resources and food shortage. You will gain a combination of practical skills and academic understanding to develop a critical and creative mindset. Teaching is delivered in many formats: by formal lectures, small group interactive workshops, practicals and tutorials as well as field and site visits. You will learn the principles of crop production, the latest advances in plant pathology, integrated pest management, weed control, and ecology. Modules will explain the importance of the soil for nutrition and water uptake, modern techniques of plant breeding and how crop trials are designed and analysed. As part of the course, ADAS will provide an on-farm module on cereal, oilseed and root-crop agronomy. The BASIS module will provide you with the necessary academic training for a full BASIS Certificate in Crop Protection which will be accredited to you after working for a year in industry. The course will also explore societal concerns of changes to agriculture/food production and the environment/landscape covering aspects such as ethics, communication and engagement, and understanding with the public. On • • •

completion successful candidates will be able to: Understand how crops are grown and managed Work as an agronomist or in the ago-industrial sector Understand and evaluate the constraints on crop production: physical (temperature, weather), chemical (soil, nutrients) and biotic (pests, disease and weeds) • Understand modern crop breeding techniques • Understand trial design and evaluate data • Critically evaluate future pressure on crop production and land-use (biotic, environmental and societal) and communicate with stakeholders Page 4

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

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

MSc Sustainable Crop Production: Agronomy for the 21st Century

Mrs Denny Croft MSc Teaching Co-ordinator

Professor Peter Mills Course Leader: MSc Food Security

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

Miss Nikki Glover Postgraduate Co-ordinator

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:

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Student Newsletter January 2010  

Warwick HRI Student Newsletter 2010

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