Protecting future food supplies. Growing the next generation of plant pathologists.
On 16th October 2020, World Food Day commemorates 75 years since the foundation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. Today 690 million people in the world are hungry. By 2050, the world population is estimated to have risen to 10 billion people. To meet global food needs for healthy and nutritious food will demand science and technology; learning to cultivate in a more sustainable way. Plant pathologists across the world protect our food supply – seeking to understand risks from environment, pests and disease.
The BSPP seeks to sustain this work; providing a network to share knowledge, fund research and support the next generation of plant pathologists. Every year, the BSPP funds bursaries supporting undergraduate students working on short research projects during the summer vacation. In 2020 however, many laboratories closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The BSPP therefore issued an additional call for funding, focusing on research projects that can be done remotely, focusing training on new ways of working. These were named Lockdown Bursaries.
13 undergraduates were supported through summer 2020 to develop their skills in plant pathology. Exploring effective approaches to collating data and using technology to resolve plant health issues. See their videos below, the voices of some of the #FoodHeroes our society represents.
Nik Cunniffe (University of Cambridge), the BSPP Education Officer, introduces the BSPP Undergraduate Summer Lockdown Bursaries 2020.
Katherine talks about her remote project with Dawn Arnold at Harper Adams University, studying Bacterial tree diseases.
Michael describes his lockdown project with Ronaldo Alberto, using weather and GIS data to forecast plant disease.
John-Paul shares his experience analysing molecular interactions in the rhizosphere with Johnathan Dalzell at Queens University, Belfast.
Oisin talks about his lockdown project with Nik Cuniffe at University of Cambridge, uncovering crop dynamics using maths and computer modelling.
Sarah enjoyed using skills from her engineering degree to complete a project on coffee leaf rust with Dan Bebber at the University of Exeter.
Evren and Amina investigated Leptosphaeria diseases on Oilseed Rape with Chinthani Karandeni Dewage and Yongju Huang at the University of Hertfordshire.
Aideen focussed on hotspots for disease defence in the wheat genome using her coding skills, supervised by Fiona Doohan at University College Dublin.
Cameron and Aman discuss working with Davide Bulgarelli at the University of Dundee. They uncovered dynamics between plants & microbes, reviewing current literature and coding interactions.
Ellen shares her strategies for creating a new resource on biotic threats to Quinoa cultivation in the UK and Europe, supervised by Gail Preston at the University of Oxford.
Tom talks about his project at FERA with Nicola Spence, investigating new tech for assessing tree diseases, using geospatial analysis & earth observation imagery.
Read about Amanda’s lockdown project ‘exploring invasive species during lockdown’.