Hear from our PhD students


Hear from our PhD students

If you love change, a challenge and the opportunity this brings, Fera's PhD studentships could be right for you. Don't just take our word for it, hear what our students have to say...

Meet Ines Vazquez-Iglesias, Fera PhD student

I’m working on rose viruses. Our aim is to clarify the current situation of rose viruses in the UK and future proof rose cultivation, as roses are one of the most important ornamental flowering shrubs grown worldwide and the national flower of England. Thus, we are using different molecular techniques, such as ELISA (Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), quantitative RT-PCR and High-Throughput Sequencing (HTS). Furthermore, we want to avoid the entrance and spread of Rose rosette virus, a devastating virus present in the US and recently reported in India (2017).

Developing my PhD research at Fera Science Ltd. gives me a different point of view. You have the best of both worlds: you can see closely how the industry works, but also you are still involved in the university, having an academia perspective. Here we have access to new technologies, e.g. HTS (MiSeq, MinION), giving us the chance to learn and work on new and modern molecular techniques and platforms.

I enjoy working at Fera Science Ltd. because has a nice working environment. Fera has great teams working together in many different fields, and they are keen on helping you. It also gives you the chance to learn about other projects and fields, and allows you to see the daily work of a diagnostic laboratory and other R&D projects.

Fera Science Ltd. is great place to develop your PhD and for starting your research career.

Meet Emma Chapelhow, Fera PhD student

My PhD is working on diagnosing and predicting soil-borne diseases using molecular techniques. Losses due to crop disease is highly impacting food security, so being able to diagnose and predict efficiently can help mitigate crop losses. This PhD was perfect for me as I get to interact with farmers and work with them to improve food production.

Doing my PhD at Fera has been a real insight into scientific research from the industry perspective. I enjoy that everyone here is working towards the goal of advancing science, it makes me feel part of a community. Everyone is up for helping and collaborating and will go out of their way to make things happen. Some of the more practical benefits of doing a PhD at Fera are that you have access to some of the best equipment and a wide range of expertise. From a career point of view, doing a PhD here at Fera introduces you to academic, industry and the real-world connections.

Meet Yaiza Gutierrez Vazquez, Fera PhD student

I am a PhD student researching fungicide resistance in wheat crops. Septoria tritici blotch (STB) caused by Zymoseptoria tritici is seen as the most serious leaf disease of wheat in Northern Europe. STB is known to be resistant to a wide range of fungicides such as the azoles and SDHIs and hence it is crucial to better understand the development and optimal management of fungicide resistance.

My project involves analysing the genotype and phenotype of field isolates and understand the relationship between them both. Population genotypes will be analysed by MinION sequencing whilst bioassays are used to determine the phenotype.

Additional analysis on the effect of the transporters related to fungicide resistance (MDR) will also be performed. Isolates which have transporters are able to secrete the fungicide negating the effect of the fungicide despite not carrying conventional forms of fungicide resistance, which might lead to an unexpected relationship between phenotype and genotype.

Mathematical and statistical models are being used to understand differences in resistance levels, how they relate to fungicide treatments, and the gene(s) associated with resistance.

By understanding genotypes of STB in real-time we can help farmers tailor their fungicide spray programmes more appropriately enabling better short-term disease control and a reduced selection for resistance maintaining long-term disease control.

The parts of my PhD I like the most is that it is multidisciplinary with the potential to help farmers and that it provides the opportunity of learning new skills. Doing my PhD at Fera gave me the opportunity to work and learn from specialists in different areas such as modelling, molecular biology and bioinformatics. Before I started my PhD, I didn’t even know what modelling was and never worked with Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) tools yet now I feel confident to use MinION sequencing and create my own pipeline to analyse the NGS data produced as part of my PhD. Working at Fera also allowed me to be in contact with the agriculture sector, with Agrii, which developed my spray trials. For all these reasons I would highly recommend doing a PhD at Fera.

Sean Mason, Fera PhD student

For my PhD I am studying methods on how we can extract chitin from black soldier flies, how we can produce and separate chitosans from this source, and assess their efficacy in food contact applications with a general aim for shelf life extension.

I really enjoy the practical side of the project. Being based at Fera offers great opportunities with a wide range of technical expertise and analytical capabilities. I also like seeing how research can be applied on a larger scale to provide a service or product.

Everyone at Fera is really supportive, and I find this especially helps when it comes to conducting project work. I would recommend IAFRI PhD’s to others because you gain invaluable laboratory and networking experience both inside and out of the university research environment.

Achieving your PhD with Fera will provide you with a real insight in scientific research from the industry perspective. The opportunity will provide you with access to some of the best equipment and experienced expertise.


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