DAERA showcases student research at symposium

Date published: 19 September 2018

Postgraduate students funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) had the opportunity to present their research on various topics at a symposium event in Belfast.

DAERA’s annual Postgraduate Studentship Competition offers a three year PhD Research Studentship aligned to DAERA Priority Research Areas. The symposium event at the Stormont Hotel was attended by approximately 100 delegates, with students delivering presentations and displaying posters of their research areas, which included; local honey bee, noise pollution in commercial fishing, soft rot in vegetables, greenhouse gas emissions, feeding efficiency in dairy calves and NI milk quality among many others.

Speaking at the event DAERA’s Permanent Secretary, Denis McMahon said, “The Department’s support for the Postgraduate Research Programme demonstrates our ongoing commitment to strengthen the scientific expertise available to the wider agri-food sector, particularly in Northern Ireland.  Students develop specialist knowledge, research skills and problem-solving ability, all of which are transferable to the range of careers in industry, academia and the wider public sector.”

Guest speaker Professor Carol Curran, OBE, PhD, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Ulster University, gave an insight into her own distinguished career following completion of her PhD and provided words of encouragement and inspiration to the students.

Final year Queen’s University Belfast PhD student Robyn McKenna said: “As part of my research I collaborated with the local feed industry to assess the use of fatty acids as a safe, wholesome swine health supplement.  Results showed an enhanced immune response to infection and a healthier gut environment. There are advantages to animal health and welfare, which could ultimately improve the performance of the pig sector here in Northern Ireland. I would like to thank DAERA for funding this research during the past three years.”

Awards were also presented for best presentations and poster displays.

Paul Mayo, of Agri Food Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB), won the DAERA prize for best final year presentation, Naomi Rutherford, AFBI and QUB, won the DAERA prize for best second year poster and talk and Gavin Grant, AFBI and QUB, won the DAERA prize for best first year poster.

DAERA plans to open the 2019 Postgraduate Studentship Competition in December 2018. Awards are made for a three year PhD Research Studentship aligned to DAERA Priority Research Areas, which will be published at launch of the competition. 

Download further details of DAERA’s postgraduate research.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo caption - Postgraduate students funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) had the opportunity to present their research on various topics at a symposium event in the Stormont Hotel Belfast. Pictured (from left-right) are; Dr Denis McMahon, DAERA Permanent Secretary, Phil Hamill, Queen's Univeristy Belfast, Robyn McKenna, Queen's University Belfast and  Professor Carol Curran, OBE, PhD, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences at Ulster University.
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