AHDB research prize rewards excellence in next generation of animal scientists

AHDB research prize rewards excellence in next generation of animal scientists

A final year PhD student from Harper Adams University claimed the prize for ‘Best Presentation’ at the 2013 PhD Seminar Programme held near Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, last week.

Priya Motupalli, funded by the Barham Benevolent Foundation and DairyCo, dairy division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), was honoured for her summary of her three-year study into ‘The factors that influence dairy cow preference to be indoors or at pasture.’

AHDB Chief Scientist Professor Ian Crute, one of the trio of event judges, presented Priya with her glass trophy and certificate at a dinner held on the evening of the opening day of the two-day conference staged by AHDB’s beef and lamb (EBLEX), dairy (DairyCo) and pig (BPEX) divisions, Meat Promotion Wales (Hybu Cig Cymru – HCC) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

Professor Crute, who was joined on the judging panel by Paul Biscoe – Chief Executive, AgriFood Charities Partnership and Dr Helen Ferrier – Chief Science and Regulatory Affairs Adviser at the NFU, said: “The judges were unanimous in deciding that Priya Motupalli gave the best of a wide range of accomplished, assured performances delivered by this year’s PhD programme.

“We also agreed that, in anticipating an excellent crop of research trained new entrants, the industry was going to be in good hands for the future. Equally important, AHDB and its collaborative funders can expect this spread of top quality studies to deliver a range of innovative opportunities with practical relevance to industry.”

Commenting on her success, Priya, said: “I’m grateful to have received this prize, especially as I was competing against a talented group of scientists and presenters.

“Communicating science to a broad audience is a particularly important skill and it’s wonderful to have my work acknowledged in this manner. I give my sincerest thanks to the judging panel.”

The work of more than 50 final year, first year and other current PhD students was presented to over a hundred industry leaders and academics in this annual celebration of the £1.5m-a-year cross-sector studentship programme run by the divisions within AHDB.

In 2014, a restyled research programme from AHDB will introduce 19 new three to four-year PhD projects to grow new industry talent and deliver science with practical industry benefits – a call made to the industry by government in its recently launched Agri-Tech Strategy. The programme is also a cornerstone of AHDB’s commitment to skills made under the industry’s AgriSkills Strategy – Professionalism in Agriculture – launched by AHDB in London, last month.

Newly harmonised to cover all agricultural and horticultural sectors, this programme will reinforce the search for good science that gives the industry the necessary knowledge and information and training up of the next generation of scientists that it’s going to need if it’s to meet the growth in demand and the sustainability challenges of food production in the 21st Century.

Included in the programme’s first wave of studentships are a number of projects that aim to control farm animal disease, as well as a range of studies focused on crop protection and improving plant quality. Funding is expected to be made available for a total of 15-20 new projects each year, with around 50-60 running at any one time in the three to four-year cycle.

“We have reinforced our strategic approach to the type of studentships we support, managing them under one cross-sector, co-ordinated programme that is closely integrated into our broader R&D objectives,” said Kim Matthews, Head of Research and Development for EBLEX, AHDB’s beef and lamb division, and chair of the levy board’s joint studentship programme.

“We will continue to look to attract and develop high quality people and high quality projects, using our studentships to raise the profile of agricultural and horticultural R&D with the young scientist community. This is key to securing the levels of excellence able to drive the future of our industry as it responds to the critical challenge to produce more food for a growing world population while using fewer resources.”


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