SCIENTIFIC LIFE FOR STUDENTS
“Being a PhD student at the world’s oldest agricultural research institute, which is at the forefront of science and innovation, is a great place to start a career in research. I really benefit from the weekly visiting speakers and seminars on-site, as well as the regular training in a variety of disciplines from data analysis to thesis writing and everything in-between.”
“I applied to do a PhD at Rothamsted Research because of the world-leading science, across multiple disciplines, that is carried out here. The breadth of research areas, ranging from insect ecology to wheat genetic improvement, and from soil science to crop protection, are unlike any other research institute or university.”
“As well as formal support (mentoring, supervision and training), the community of students at Rothamsted is so varied, you will never have trouble seeking support from your peers. As well as this, you are surrounded by world-class scientists and technicians, who have an array of skills, and are always willing to help.”
“The level of mentoring and training I am receiving at Rothamsted is great, specifically in the area of statistics which is important for the correct design and analysis of my experiments. The Institute offers a series of progressive experimental design and statistics courses that are very well structured and delivered.”
“Outside of my PhD, I am trying to make the most of living so close to London, which is only 30 minutes away by train. I’ve also enjoyed the range of social events on at the Institute, from the annul Sports Day to Halloween celebrations, and of course the student cheese and wine social!”
From lockdown to lab
How have the African PhD students, who are part of our collaboration with UM6P((link)) and Cranfield University, coped with lockdown so far from home? As our sites re-open, we asked them what they had been up to.
“I have been living in Cranfield Village since February 2020 in a shared house with other PhD students. I have started my first part of the PhD at Cranfield University which will then be followed, in the coming years, by other parts at Rothamsted Research in Harpenden and at Mohammed VI polytechnic University in Morocco.
Given the lockdown situation due to COVID-19, no lab work could be done. Nevertheless, I have been reviewing the literature and defining the methodological approach to conduct the experiments. Working from home has been very challenging but I have managed to keep myself busy. I lead weekly meetings with my supervisors and monthly meetings with the PhD cohort.
Besides working on the project, I have attended some online workshops and webinars organised by different institutions. Now that the Cranfield labs start to reopen, I am designing my experiments in more detail and will started as soon as possible, depending on the current restrictions and the lab access schedule”.
Sophia's Project: Technical and practical innovations to reduce soil and water losses by improving soil physical properties
Jemima Amielle Ramarolahy
“I am currently living on Cranfield campus and the accommodation staff constantly ensured that on campus students are well supported during the lockdown. We have a safe and healthy environment! During the lockdown, I have stayed on campus, and my activities focused mainly on literature review, method development and lab experiment planning.
It was very challenging to work from home, and my productivity decreased drastically during these several weeks of lockdown. To cope with this issue, I tried to join online discussion groups and scientific forum, which became more and more available recently. Our initial lab experiment plan, which was supposed to run in April was delayed but now labs are reopening in Cranfield and we are looking forward to start our Phosphorus desorption study in August.
Following the social distancing requirement, each specific lab tasks need to be submitted earlier to lab manager, for them to arrange the lab access schedule. So, while waiting for my lab access slot, I am continuing with reading.”
Jemima's Project: Novel phosphate fertilizer formulation for African soil and crop Based in: Cranfield University lab, as per the project arrangement
“During the lockdown, I kept around my on-campus accommodation at Rothamsted. Luckily, the weather was quite good, so I occasionally did take long walks in the Rothamsted fields which gave me a chance to see many parts of the estate that I had not seen yet.
With regards to my PhD progression, I was kept busy by writing a review paper intended for a peer review journal as well as analysis of a few laboratory results that were collected shortly before lockdown. I must say, the weekly group meetings on Teams with the member in our group were really a nice way of keeping up with everyone and the developments. Now that we have gradually gotten back to work, I am able to continue with my lab work and analyse the results from home”.
Musa's Project: Agricultural Bioproducts from Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
"Marieme has been working on her project literature review throughout the lockdown. She is currently planning her first lab experiment in North Wyke. Therefore, with the 2nd phase return, she has collected soil samples and is at the moment sieving the soil. Her first experiment will start in early September. Besides working on her project, Marieme is helping on other students work. During her free time, Marieme is gardening some green vegetables (lettuce, beans and potatoes)."
Marieme's Project: Novel fertilizer for enhanced nitrogen use efficiency Lockdown update: