Thursday, 11 December 2014

Postgraduate seminar showcases young scientific talent

Developing young talent and encouraging new ways of thinking is vital in any industry and in agriculture, where the age profile is known for being high, this takes on an even greater importance.

That’s the reason why EBLEX’s research and development team supports a number of studentships each year, as part of the broader AHDB studentship programme, with the aim of making sure that the next generation of farm advisers and scientists is waiting in the wings.

Typically, three EBLEX-funded student projects are started each year, normally with a three-year funding agreement, resulting in there being nine full-time EBLEX students at any one time. Where appropriate, these are jointly funded with other divisions of AHDB or the other UK red meat levy organisations.

With the students being located all around England, opportunities for them to meet with their peers are limited, which is why the annual livestock postgraduate seminar provides a valuable opportunity for them to integrate with other students and share their progress during the previous year.

The event, which this year took place in Kenilworth on Tuesday 10th December, involved all the AHDB livestock divisions (EBLEX, BPEX and DairyCo), together with Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

All the students whose projects are funded (or part-funded) by those organisations have the opportunity to take part, with a total of 39 presenting over two days. The students who are in their final year are judged by a panel and the winner presented with an award for best presentation.

Among the EBLEX-funded final year students were Selin Cooper and Emma Monaghan, both from the University of Warwick, and both investigating elements of mastitis in sheep. Emma presented on how bacteria in sheep udders changes pre and post-mastitis, while Selin talked about identifying different types of bacteria.

The last EBLEX-funded final year student to present Rory Shaw, from Bangor University, who spoke for a final time on his PhD looking at the use of real-time in situ nitrogen sensors to enhance sustainability and reduce costs in livestock systems.

While these projects may seem far removed from the working life of the average beef and sheep farmer, having a healthy research pipeline is essential for EBLEX to achieve its aim of helping the beef and sheep meat supply chain become more efficient. And ensuring that some of these research projects are carried out by those just setting out on their carrier means that these efforts can continue in the years to come.