2013-04-05 xml
New Studentship Programme Seeks ‘Cream of the Crop’

Following a review of its support for post-graduate research projects, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is to reinforce the focus of its £500,000 cross-sector studentship programme, this summer, on delivering new science with practical industry benefits.

A new-look AHDB programme will launch in June 2013 to install students in research institutions/universities by the start of the 2014/15 academic year. Applications will be open to all research institutions.

Dairy Cows

photo © Jennifer MacKenzie

A new-look AHDB programme will launch in June 2013 to install students in research institutions/universities by the start of the 2014/15 academic year. Applications will be open to all research institutions.

The initiative will harmonise the application process for the three-to-four-year studentships funded by the levy board’s six divisions – BPEX (pigs), EBLEX (beef and lamb), DairyCo (milk), HGCA (cereals and oilseeds), HDC (horticulture) and Potato Council (potatoes).

The aim is to deliver more value from this post-graduate student programme in terms of useable scientific developments that are relevant to industry priorities, as well as to help develop the next generation of technical experts for the agriculture and horticulture industries.

“Across AHDB, we have historically funded 15-20 studentships per year and will maintain this sort of number but we will be taking a more strategic approach to the type of studentships supported, managing them under one cross-sector, co-ordinated programme that is integrated into our broader R&D objectives,” said chair of the joint studentship programme Kim Matthews, Head of Research and Development for AHDB’s beef and lamb division.

“There is also a common understanding of the cost of a studentship, whatever the sector. It is recognised that the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) rate of £22,418 per year, which includes a student stipend of £13,500, is a fair reflection of the cost of a studentship and where an AHDB division cannot support this level of funding there is an expectation that the applying institution will seek additional funding to meet this cost,” he added.

“We make no apology for saying we’re looking to recruit the cream of the crop, those students with the ability, drive and ambition to bring something special to our industry, not only their talent but also a research project that can really make a difference to our levy payers.

“We’ll be looking for good people and good projects, hopefully guaranteeing a level of quality that will prove a definite asset to the future of UK agriculture and horticulture.”

Students’ progress will be keenly monitored, with regular reporting built into the schedule. To give a flavour of the project pedigree AHDB is looking to support, studentships already being run by AHDB divisions include:

BPEX - pigs
Project: Detection and identification of pathogens and antibodies in oral fluids of pigs
Research body: University of Newcastle
Dates: October 2012 – September 2015
Project: Climate change adaptation of pig buildings
Research body: Harper Adams University
Dates: April 2012 – April 2015

DairyCo - Milk
Project: Social components of health and productivity in dairy cattle
Research body: University of Exeter
Dates: January 2012 – December 2014

Project: Development of a novel tool to predict and prevent Streptococcus uberis mastitis
Research body: University of Nottingham
Dates: October 2011 – September 2014

EBLEX – beef and lamb (partly co-funded with HCC and QMS)
Project: Use of CT-based predictors of meat quality in sheep breeding programmes
Research body: Scottish Rural College (SRUC)
Dates: November 2011 – October 2014

Project: Identifying digital dermatitis reservoirs in cattle and sheep
Research body: University of Liverpool
Dates: October 2012 – September 2015

HDC – horticulture
Project: Pre-colonisation of strawberry runners and tray plants with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi to manage Verticillium wilt
Research body: East Malling Research
Dates: Autumn 2013 – 2016/17

Project: Integrated protection of horticultural crops through enhancing endogenous defence mechanisms
Research body: The James Hutton Institute
Dates: Autumn 2013 – 2016/17

Distance Learning - Home Study Courses, Home Learning Course, Open Study and Distance Learning courses

HGCA – cereals and oilseed rape
Project: Value of resistance genes for controlling Septoria tritici in high-yielding wheat varieties
Research body: John Innes Centre
Dates: October 2011 – September 2014

Project: Site specific land management of cereal crops based on proximal soil sensing
Research body: Cranfield University
Dates: June 2010 – May 2013

Potato Council – potatoes
Project: Structure and function of cell wall polysaccharides in relation to tuber mechanical properties and bruise susceptibility
Research body: University of Leeds
Dates: October 2010 – June 2014

Project: Characterisation of Potato Cyst Nematode Populations in Great Britain for Sustainable Crop Management
Research body: Harper Adams University
Dates: October 2013 – October 2016


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