David Miller Travel Bursary recipient, Jessie Sweetman, reports from Belgium

05 July 2023

The David Miller Travel Bursary Award aims to give early career plant scientists or horticulturists the opportunity of overseas travel in connection with their horticultural careers. Jessie Sweetman was awarded one of the 2022 David Miller Travel Bursaries to attend the conference ‘Translational Research in Crops’ in Ghent, Belgium from the 22nd-23rd June 2023.

Jessie Sweetman, David Miller 2022 Travel bursary recipient"I am a PhD student in my penultimate year of study at the University of Bristol, undertaking a Doctoral Training Program PhD funded by the BBSRC. My PhD focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying the control of dark-induced senescence by light and temperature. I am also working in collaboration with protected environment agriculture company LettUs Grow to apply this understanding to crop species. Dark-induced senescence is of major interest to the horticultural industry as it is one of the main processes which limits the shelf life and quality of harvested produce. The underlying aim of my PhD is to identify non-invasive light and temperature treatments that can delay dark-induced senescence and, therefore, improve the shelf life of harvested crops.

"Funding from the David Miller Award contributed towards my attendance of the VIB conference ‘Translational Research in Crops’ in Ghent, Belgium from the 22nd-23rd June 2023. This conference featured talks from 20 of the world’s leading plant biotechnology researchers covering topics such as how to engineer healthier crops, improving abiotic and biotic stress resistance and developments in crop breeding. During this conference, I was able to present a poster featuring the main components of my research so far. Presenting my work in this format fostered discussions with other delegates researching topics in both similar and different areas of applied plant science. This was extremely valuable for me in terms of developing the way I communicate my work to a varied audience and because it increased my exposure to different perspectives on my work. Discussing my project with scientists on the cutting edge of translational research in crops challenged me to expand my ideas about how I can apply my own research and underlined the importance of such work. Further to this, attending the conference enabled me to make contact in person with potential collaborators who have since offered access to use their specialised equipment, which will allow the advancement of my research in areas that haven’t been possible up until now. I was also approached by a journal editor who expressed interest in publishing my work as a result of the poster, which will be hugely valuable to my PhD! Overall, attending this conference reignited my passion for translational plant science and has provided new opportunities to develop my PhD project and also a strong insight into the international research which is being carried out to improve our food production systems.

"I am immensely grateful to the SCI and the David Miller Award for supporting me to attend Translational Research in Crops and for the knowledge and contacts my attendance has fostered!"

Jessie Sweetman
PhD Student
Plant Photobiology Group, School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol

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