SCI Scholar, Joe Oddy, presents his end of year report

20 May 2022

For over thirty years, SCI has supported and recognised the excellence of early career people, by aiding their studies in the form of an SCI Scholarship.

Since 1985 over 80 scholarships have been awarded which have not only given the recipients financial assistance, but have enabled them to broaden their network, and strengthen their skills and knowledge. SCI Scholars receive access to publishing and mentoring opportunities and are given a platform to present their work amongst esteemed scientists and industrialists, thus raising their profile within the scientific community.

Joe Oddy was awarded an SCI Scholarship in 2021. At the end of their first year, SCI Scholars present an end of year report to SCI. Read on to find out more about what Joe has done in his first year as an SCI Scholar.

SCI Scholar Joe Oddy"Over the last year, I have made progress with the three sub-projects that make up my PhD. The first sub-project of my PhD (Investigating the effect of a natural deletion of asparagine synthetase 2 on asparagine content in wheat grain) finished last year with the publication of our analysis in June (Oddy et al., 2021). As a result, I have been focusing on the other two sub-projects within my PhD over the last year: (1) Investigating free amino acid composition in a soft wheat mapping population and (2) studying how crop management strategies can impact free amino acid composition of wheat grain.

"In the sub-project investigating the soft wheat mapping population, I have produced a manuscript of our findings that is almost ready for journal submission. The analysis that I performed for this population required me to learn several new computational and statistical techniques (e.g. Bayesian data analysis, genomic prediction, better coding in R, use of high performance computing), so the support from SCI was extremely helpful in being able to purchase courses and buy books related to these topics. I was then able to successfully implement these techniques in our analysis of the mapping population.

"In the sub-project investigating crop management strategies to control free amino acids in wheat grain, our experiments are still ongoing but we have made good progress. Most notably, I took multispectral measurements of the plots within the trial to see whether this data could be applied to enable prediction of high-asparagine plots. Currently, I am investigating the quality of flour from one of our field trials at the Reading Science Centre with my industrial partners Mondelez International.

"In terms of communication, I have been able to use the scholarship to travel to and attend a variety of meetings, including Cereals in Lincoln (2021), the Plant Genomics and Gene Editing congress in the Netherlands (2022), and the Monogram conference in Leeds (2022). The scholarship also enabled me to travel and stay overnight in Edinburgh for an SCI Agri-Food Early Career committee meeting. Beyond travel, I was also introduced to the Bright SCIdea competition at SCI, competing as part of the team FairZero with a business idea focused on carbon credits."

Oddy, J., Alarcón-Reverte, R., Wilkinson, M., Ravet, K., Raffan, S., Minter, A., Mead, A., Elmore, J.S., de Almeida, I.M., Cryer, N.C., Halford, N.G., & Pearce, S. (2021). Reduced free asparagine in wheat grain resulting from a natural deletion of TaASN-B2: investigating and exploiting diversity in the asparagine synthetase gene family to improve wheat quality. BMC plant biology, 21.

Joe Oddy, Rothamstead Research - Department of Plant Science

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