Natural Resources Institute Third Annual Symposium
Natural Resources Institute Third Annual Symposium

Four of NRI’s PhD students picked up recognition awards at the NRI Annual Postgraduate Symposium last month, at the University of Greenwich’s Medway campus.

Christina Faulder, Steven Sewe, Jackie Atim and Kate Denton prized themselves away from the confines of their research – returning from field trips, putting down test-tubes and moving away from microscopes – as our postgraduate students took centre stage to showcase their original research.


 Christina Faulder, Postgraduate research studentSteven Sewe, Postgraduate research studentJackie Atim, Postgraduate research studentKate Denton, Postgraduate research student“A great opportunity to give a presentation in a friendly environment, readying myself for future conference opportunities,” said Christina Faulder, a first year PhD student studying synthetic compounds to create a control strategy on the fruit fly Drosophila Suzuki, a pest species causing £20–30 million of damage to fruit crops every year. 

symp 1The symposium, organised by the Natural Resources Institute Postgraduate Society (NRIPS), mirrored a professional research conference, providing a platform for students to discuss their research and get timely feedback from staff and fellow students. A mixture of presentations and posters were put before the audience and a panel of four NRI staff; Dr John Orchard, Dr Mandela-Fernanadez-Grandon, Dr Frances Hawkes and Dr Jonne Rodenburg. Students were given marks for their research presentation, covering organisation, knowledge, content and creative display.

Winner of the poster presentation, Steven Sewe, who is examining next generation sequencing characterisation of plant viral diversity and host interactions in West African yam commented, “Thrilled to have won the award for the best research poster design, which is an essential skill to present my research work at meetings and conferences as I progress”.

Jackie Atim is one of NRI’s PhD students working on the African Cassava Whitefly Project. Researching Bemisia tabaci (whitefly) resistance in Latin America cassava genotypes, Jackie’s research has supported the project, which at its core, aims to help improve food security for some of the poorest people in the world.

Kate Denton wowed the judges by focusing on the potential of UK bats as insect pest controllers in the agricultural industry by gathering information on the composition of bats' diets, using DNA sequencing to find out exactly what species of insects bats eat. Kate also picked up a second award in the same week for winning the 3-minute thesis competition. Kate says a key feature of studying with NRI is the ongoing support, “It’s not just the students and staff directly related to your project who will go out of their way to help, but also the larger staff pool. It’s a very supportive environment and we are given lots of opportunities both academically and socially.”

front cover 2.2Professor Andrew Westby, NRI’s Director, congratulated everyone on their hard work, dedication and commitment to important research that helps to make a difference in the world. “At NRI we are fortunate to have a diverse cohort of postgraduate research students carrying out research to address global problems. We want to encourage as many prospective and current students as possible to become great scientists and future leaders. We are able to provide students – undergraduate and postgraduate alike –with opportunities that go far beyond standard taught courses. Our staff both teach and engage in award-winning world leading scientific research.”

Find out more about our undergraduate and postgraduate courses here.

Judging panel:

John Orchard

Mandela Fernandez-Grandon

Frances Hawkes

Jonne Rodenburg


NRIPS Committee members:

Symposium Chair: Joachim Nwezeobi

Deputy Symposium Chair: Christina Faulder

Communications Officer: Fiona Teltscher

Booklet Organiser: Paolo Sicat

Oral Presentation Organiser: Kate Dent

Poster Presentation Organiser: Jillian Joiner

Food Organiser: Ajith Rathnayake Mudiyanselage

Organiser of Panel Discussion and Judges: Siji Kavil & Erica Ngwensang