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Research Staff Profile - Dr Peter Glen Walley

pwalley.jpg  Dr Peter Glen Walley
Research Fellow, School of Life Sciences.
Tel ext: 75164

Current Research
My current research is on leafy vegetables and salads for the Vegetable Genetic Improvement Network (VeGIN). VeGIN is a DEFRA-funded project that brings together research focused on key vegetable crops. The network encourages collaborations between industry and researchers to address how genetic improvement of crop varieties can contribute to a sustainable increase in food production to meet the twin challenges of food security and climate change. I also maintain the VeGIN website:

Life before Warwick
Going backwards through time, my PhD was registered at Warwick and I was based at Horticulture Research International (HRI) which became Warwick HRI. I did an MSc in industrial biotechnology; worked as a lab manager for 2 years for Eurofins Scientific; I did an honors degree in biochemistry and microbiology.

Best things about working at Warwick
The research being undertaken is world class, which is helped by having excellent research facilities. I find it rewarding to work with a diverse range of people, both academic and non-academic and I have made some good friends. It is refreshing to be able to drop in and share ideas with colleagues.

Worst thing about working for Warwick or If you could change one thing at Warwick, what would it be?
The nature of fixed-term contracts, and the glass ceiling it creates; however, this applies to the majority of Universities and research institutes; as with the majority of things in life, it comes down to finance.

What people are surprised to learn about me…..
In work, that I own a Chihuahua Jack Russell cross called Roo. Outside work, that I have a PhD and I am interested in plant breeding and crop genetics. I think this is because I look more like a builder.

What would you dream job be?
My dream job would be to have my own research group with an unlimited supply of funds. I would remain in crop genetics and plant breeding, hopefully making a significant impact on sustainable food production.

Research interest
My main interests lie in plant breeding and crop genetics, with a particular interest in post harvest quality. I enjoy discovering regions of a plants genome that influence specific traits, and working out which gene or genes may influence the trait and how best to capture useful allelic variation within a crop and how to apply this variation to improve current commercial cultivars.

What have been useful training/ development to date
Technical writing course
Presentation Skills
Personal Development
An introduction to hypothesis testing
Introduction to GenStat for Windows
Research project management skills workshop
Stand and deliver (developing personal effective presentation skills)
Personal impact/ confident networking
Managing research relationships
Fellowship workshop
Commercial logic (Advanced transferable skills) (June)
I was awarded Roberts funding to attend a two week course “Quantitative methods in plant breeding’.

Other roles (eg. peer review journals)
I am the research staff forum representative for the School of life sciences. I was part of the Athena Swan focus group for the School of life sciences.
My teaching activities stretch to two MSc modules, Quantitative biology and Plant genetics, genomics and bioinformatics. I represent Warwick Crop Centre as a member of The British Society of Plant Breeders. I act as a referee for the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture and the Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology.

Next bid/grant
My next grant application will be as co-applicant on a project that aims to build on my previous work on post harvest quality in Brassica crops. I will also play a role in the continuation of the vegetable genetic improvement pending decisions made by DEFRA.

Latest academic writing publication (journal/book etc)
• Walley, P. G. & Buchanan – Wollaston, V. (2011). Chapter 5 – Brassica; in: Health promoting properties of fruit and vegetables. Edited by Terry, L. CABI, UK. ISBN-13: 9781845935283. (In press for September, 2011).
• Walley, P.G. et al. (2011). A new framework broccoli x broccoli genetic map – better for breeders, better for complex trait analysis. Theoretical and Applied Genetics, Submitted.

Looking for?
Permanent position.
Collaboration with other scientists, this can be on anything – I am broad-minded.
Research funding.

Major achievement to date
Getting my PhD is a major achievement. Having a job that I love.

Three top tips / learning
• It is important to look at the detail – but also try and keep an overview.
• Consider different opinions (“once I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken”).
• It is worth venturing outside of the box, but do not get lost.