Crops for the Future

Lead Research Organisation: University of Dundee
Department Name: College of Life Sciences

Abstract

Crop science will become a critical discipline in the coming years as the UK focuses on the important issues of food security, ecosystem management, reducing inputs and the impact of environmental change, including newly emerging pests and pathogens. In stark contrast to this imperative, the necessary infrastructure for training new crop scientists is badly decayed. There are now virtually no plant science based undergraduate degree courses in UK universities because of catastrophic drops in student demand. To make things worse, this is happening against a background where many senior plant breeders are about to retire. This situation needs to be redressed as a matter of great urgency if the challenging targets for food supply are to be met. Our taught masters course 'Crops for the Future' aims to provide training in the high level skills in agricultural science needed by the agriculture and food industries. Training in crop science is best carried out by partnerships between universities, with strengths in the underlying theoretical science, and research institutes with complementary expertise including a strong commitment to practical crop science. 'Crops for the Future' is a joint venture between the University of Dundee (UoD) and SCRI, which has been conceived as a natural extension of the three-way synergy between University, Research Institute and crop industry. The course, which accepted its first entrants in September 2009, combines arguably the strongest UK crop science research institute (SCRI) with one of the top three UK life sciences university departments (UoD College of Life Sciences). Both organisations are internationally recognised with regard to excellence in teaching, research and facilities. SCRI is an equal partner in this proposal and its extremely close contacts with the commercial crop breeding and downstream processing industries provide a working pipeline for the transfer of knowledge to commercial application. Masters students will thus have exposure to all aspects of basic and applied crop science. We are particularly proud of the 4-month full-time research project component which is substantial enough to give real postgraduate research experience in a World Class research environment. We are eager to facilitate entry of successful MRes graduates into PhD research in areas closely matched with the current needs of commercial crop science. The course is designed to train graduates in the key areas of crop science that will be required to underpin sustainable agriculture in the 21st century. Our particular research and teaching strengths in crop genomics, high throughput technologies, association genetics, pest/pathogen biology, biofuel research, GM technologies, crop handling and plant breeding, where we lead the World, are reflected in the course content. The growing World food crisis will encourage young scientists to enter areas where severe shortages of suitably qualified people are about to make themselves felt. We expect and will encourage graduates from the programme to become professional crop scientists who will make a significant contribution to the development of modern agriculture and become, for example, 'next generation' plant breeders. The course is designed for flexibility. For full course students, the core taught modules and project are compulsory and are supplemented by both mandatory and optional generic/employment skills training opportunities (see Case for Support and Programme Specification - Handbook). The modular structure allows part-time study and Open and distance learning via our versatile and powerful 'My Dundee' remote Virtual Learning Environment.

People

ORCID iD

Andrew Flavell (Principal Investigator)
Vivian Blok (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Philip White (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Michael Taliansky (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Christine Anne Hackett (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Stephen Francis Hubbard (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Craig Simpson (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Edward Baxter (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Graham Begg (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Mark Chaplain (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Scott Johnson (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Pietro Iannetta (Researcher Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3451-4259
Alison Roberts (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Gordon Simpson (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Abdellah Barakate (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Arnis Druka (Researcher Co-Investigator)
David Cooke (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Brian Fenton (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Mark Looseley (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Anthony Bengough (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Joanne Russell (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Gavin Ramsay (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Claire Halpin (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Alison Karley (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Petra Boevink (Researcher Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7021-9097
Stephen Whisson (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Rex Michael Brennan (Researcher Co-Investigator)
David Marshall (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Glenn Bryan (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Eleanor Gilroy (Researcher Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5301-4268
David Parish (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Geoffrey Squire (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Tim George (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Kath Wright (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Jennifer Stephens (Researcher Co-Investigator)
John Jones (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Paul Hallett (Researcher Co-Investigator)
David Hopkins (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Lyn Jones (Researcher Co-Investigator)
David Soutar (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Paul Birch (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Luke Ramsay (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Finlay Dale (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Adrian Newton (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Cathy Hawes (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Sean Chapman (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Geoffrey Michael Gadd (Researcher Co-Investigator)
Naeem Syed (Researcher Co-Investigator)
William Thomas (Researcher Co-Investigator)

Publications

10 25 50