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MSc Sustainable Crop Production: Agronomy for the 21st Century - student profiles

Harry
Tricklebank

2014 - 2015

Graduated with Merit

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First Degree: Horticulture

First job after graduating: Agronomist, Natures Crops International

What was the best thing about the MSc?

Warwick is a highly reputable university with a fantastic range of facilities and has a great student atmosphere around campus. My first impressions were excellent, the information provided to us was very well structured and all easily accessible through the student online portal. I remember the first trip we had to British Sugar which provided a great introduction to the importance of sustainability in sugar beet production. The best thing about the course were the lecturers, with each one having a real passion for their area of expertise. The best thing about Warwick were the people on the course."

What have you gained from your time at Warwick?

The course provides you with an in depth look at agronomy but also how it links into food security and the demands placed on global food production from a rapidly increasing population. We spent many days out in the field with a highly experienced independent agronomist who shared his thoughts and ideas on both current and future strategies for controlling weeds, pests and diseases."

Did the MSc help you gain the job you have now?

The university has a whole host of connections with agricultural contacts, this provides you with opportunities to attend industry events and explore jobs that are available. I also remember the Novel Crops event day, one of which included Quinoa and listening to industry experts on how these might influence future cropping rotations.
I now work as an agronomist at Natures Crops International in Yorkshire who manufacture speciality oils that go into dietary supplements and personal care products.
During my time at Warwick I was the chair of the student/staff liaison committee. I was also a member of the Real Ale Society. I highly recommend the MSc at Warwick, I found the course both challenging and very rewarding. Networking for me was a very useful way of gaining contacts within the industry particularly when applying for job opportunities.”

Susannah Chapman

2012 - 2013

Graduated with Merit

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First Degree: Pharmacology

First job after graduating: Senior Field Technician, University of Warwick

What was the best thing about the MSc?

The course provides an in depth look at crop production and agronomy, but also looks at different but related topics such as food security and food policy. This is really beneficial as you learn about the bigger picture of food production and how it affects different people. There was also lots of industry contact which is great for learning about the agricultural industry and the jobs available; we spent many days out with an agronomist, met representatives from different chemical companies, as well opportunities to attend industry events."

What have you gained from your time at Warwick?

I think the MSc made me more employable as I improved upon and gained many skills which I didn’t necessarily have after graduating from my undergraduate degree. Undertaking a placement and getting experience of the working environment, managing a demanding workload and regular presentations have particularly helped this."

Did the MSc help you gain the job you have now?

Yes, I now work for the University of Warwick as a Senior Field Technician where I work on a variety of projects and field trials. A significant reason for getting this job is because of the experience and knowledge I gained from working as a crop trials assistant during my placement.”

Peter Illman

2012 - 2013

Graduated with Distinction

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First Degree: Horticulture

First job after graduating: Trainee Product Technologist, Berry World

What was the best thing about the MSc?

My arrival and orientation was excellent – not overdone and I felt that if I wanted more info then it would be available. My first highlights were the arrival and initial introductions to my new course mates. I also remember the trip to British Sugar. Best thing about the MSc – the project. The best thing about Warwick - The people on the course."

What have you gained from your time at Warwick?

An extra year of academic development and a very good qualification from a reputable university. I think my MSc has given me something very impressive to place on my CV and I think the industrial experience gained from my project helped me to get my current job working for Berry World, one of the major soft fruit marketing companies in the UK.”

What else did you do during your time at Warwick?

I was the co-chair of the student/staff liaison committee. I was a member of the archery club, mixed hockey, badminton and wine and whiskey society.”

Nkulumani Ndlovu

2012-13

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First Degree: Agricultural Resources Management

First job after graduating: Lecturer in Agriculture at Bishop Burton College

What was the best thing about the MSc?

Wonderful career advice, mock interviews by helpful staff at Student Careers & Skills as well as helping me with CV and cover letter writing. The CAL English classes and the mentor they provided were also brilliant."

What have you gained from your time at Warwick?

The experience at Warwick was good and I learnt a lot. I think the MSc helped me to get this job; particularly my time on placement at SGS UK played a major role in improving my job prospects."

What is your current role?

I am a part-time lecturer in Agriculture for degree students at Bishop Burton College. My role includes training and will hopefully lead to me gaining qualified teacher status (QTS)."

Catherine Garman

2012-13

Graduated with Distinction

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First degree: Environmental Science

First job after graduating: Assistant Trials Officer at Oxford Agricultural Trials (OAT)

What was the best thing about the MSc?

Meeting and getting to know all the brilliant people on my course was the best bit but I also found all the modules in the MSc incredibly interesting. I always most looked forward to the BASIS trips out in the field with the agronomist, I think it was very good to have that practical experience integrated into the academic side. I also enjoyed the trips to ADAS as we got to meet a range of experts and see how and where the research takes place."

What have you gained from your time at Warwick?

I gained an awful lot and learnt more in one year than I did in my 3 years of undergraduate degree. I learnt how to efficiently research and write good essays, give presentations, and plan and execute my own lab studies. These have all improved my verbal and written communication skills and made me much more employable. The links with experts in the industry that we made are also useful when job hunting. I have also become more aware of the problems facing global agriculture and food security, which has made me want to become part of a team that can help resolve these issues. I think deciding to do the MSc at Warwick was one of the best decisions I ever made"

 Sebastian Fairhead

Sebastian Fairhead

2011-2012

What did you enjoy about your course?


I felt the MSc in Sustainable Crop Production was an informative, well-structured course in a discipline filled with opportunity. The modules provide an overview of how science can address the pressures facing the agricultural industry, and would suite interested in agronomy, crop research and agricultural policy. A significant part of the course was the project, which allows students to develop a more in-depth understanding of a particular field. I used the project to learn about plant-pathogen interactions on a molecular level for the purpose of developing crop varieties resistant to Albugo candida."

What are you doing now?

I thoroughly enjoyed conducting research in this field, and have subsequently begun a PhD with the Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP). The partnership comprises of the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Leicester to develop skills in Food Security, Bioenergy, Industrial Biotechnology and Systems Biology. My PhD is a continuation of my masters project and is both challenging and enjoyable."

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Andy Tock

2011-2012

What did you like about your course?

The MSc in Sustainable Crop Production at Warwick addresses scientific questions of increasing global importance as agricultural systems must adapt to meet the food needs of a growing world population by sustainable means. The MSc is an intensive and varied programme, providing me with a critical awareness of the practical application of the full range of sub-disciplines that inform sustainable agronomic practice. It provides a good balance of classroom teaching with practical (often lab-based) elements and visits to related businesses and advisory bodies. The range of modules taught is very good and the academic staff who teach them are friendly and engaging, specialising in a diverse range of disciplines. Students really benefit from exposure to the different fields of expertise made available through the School of Life Sciences’ links with Warwick Crop Centre on the Wellesbourne campus."
 

How did the course help you?

I think it’s probably fair to say that the School is unrivalled in terms of the number and breadth of summer mini-project opportunities offered to students, based either in the lab or at industrial placements. My project (based at Wellesbourne, under the supervision of plant geneticist Professor Eric Holub and plant pathologist Dr Joana Vicente) involved revival of heritage germplasm of navy bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) to enable genetic improvement of varieties for low-input production in the UK and developing countries. This was an excellent opportunity to develop skills in biological research, including selection of near-isogenic lines for resistance to halo blight (caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola), and extraction of DNA from elite bean lines for use in future next-generation sequencing experiments."

What are you doing now?

In the course of the project, I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to continue this research into a PhD project. The project will proceed with the development of an expandable database of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in order to map genes controlling vital physiological resilience and seed quality traits; namely, halo blight resistance, cold tolerance for seedling establishment, drought tolerance, and early maturity for harvest. Marker-assisted selection of these traits could contribute to the viability of navy bean as a rotational crop for UK farmers. In addition to the agronomic importance of incorporating legume break crops into rotations, home-grown baked beans could hold social and economic value.

All in all, it was a very good year and I’d recommend it!"