PhD students awarded prizes for excellence in plant science research

Alex, Susan, Fay & Sarah
Alex Bleasdale, Susan Lucas, Fay Biney & Sarah Denton-Thompson

Three PhD students from Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) have been awarded the Peter Lucas prize for Research Excellence in recognition of their plant science research presentations.

This is the second year the prizes have been awarded in honour of former LEC Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Peter Lucas, who died in September 2022.

The prizes for best 1st, 2nd and 3rd year talks were awarded to: 1st year Fay Biney (Improving the productivity & climate resilience of cowpea), 2nd year Sarah Denton-Thompson (Identifying microbial mechanisms affecting crop rhizosheath formation) and 3rd year Alex Bleasdale (Early detection of apple scab).

The prizes were presented by Susan Lucas following the students’ participation in the Plant & Crop Sciences annual postgraduate conference held in Welcome Week.

She said: "I was delighted to have the opportunity to meet the three winners of the Peter Lucas Prize for Research Excellence at a tea organised by Prof Ian Dodd.

“I appreciated the chance to get to know them individually and to hear about their very different personal academic journeys to their PhD programmes in LEC.

“And in particular I appreciated the opportunity to listen to their presentations about their ongoing PhD research.

“All three gave excellent presentations, and as a non-scientist, I appreciated that they were able to convey the main purposes of their studies so clearly to me.

“What impressed me most was their enthusiasm and dedication, and I could see how valuable their work is especially given increasing concerns about climate warming and food security.

“I could therefore see how much their work has practical and economic implications and potential benefits and it was good to see, too, that commercial partners are involved in their research."

Prof Ian Dodd, from LEC, said: "Each year we welcome new research students within the Plant & Crop Sciences at our Postgraduate Conference.

“At this event, our existing students speak about their research, so that new students get a sense of the expected progression.

“Susan's generous donation and continuing engagement allows us to honour Peter's contribution to our department (he excelled at helping students with technical and academic challenges) and provides extra incentive to our students to enthusiastically communicate their science."

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