A proud moment for the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), as it celebrates seven PhD awards, including four women doctoral graduates and four PhDs in social science research at this year’s University of Greenwich graduations.
Receiving their Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Peter Beine, Claudia Carvalho, Bertha Darteh, Lora Forsythe and Jane Robb attended their graduation ceremony on 25 July, at the medieval Rochester Cathedral, Medway. Habibu Mugerwa was awarded his degree at an earlier ceremony on 16 July at the Painted Hall in Greenwich and Stavros Pyrotis was awarded in absentia.
“It’s a momentous occasion and a milestone for each of our graduates; through hard work and determination to succeed, they have achieved the highest qualification of the university. We celebrate with them and wish them all the very best in their future endeavours,” said Professor Andrew Westby, Director of NRI.
The strong presence of social scientists in this year’s cohort of PhD graduates shows the importance to NRI of research across and between a range of disciplines. While some of this year’s graduates have expanded our knowledge of food crops, how they can be stored and the pests and diseases that threaten them, others have engaged more directly with the lives of the poor and vulnerable in developing countries, including smallholder farmers, forest-users, and the residents of African cities. They have done this while also contributing intellectually to knowledge in the disciplines of development studies and agricultural economics.
In her speech, Baroness Scotland, Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, congratulated all the graduates on their outstanding achievements. NRI echoes Baroness Scotland’s sentiments and shares the vision of its graduates’ future plans, to help improve people’s lives and make the world a better and fairer place for all.
Peter Beine Ahimbisibwe, Uganda
Thesis title: Impact of cassava innovations on household productivity and welfare in Uganda
“I dream of a poverty-free sub-Saharan Africa. Using my research and skills in evaluating and monitoring, I plan to implement a project that positively improves the livelihoods of rural Ugandan farmers in a sustainable and measureable way.”
Bertha Darteh, Ghana
Thesis title: The scope of learning alliances as a mechanism for more innovative urban water management
“I am eager to use the knowledge and skills acquired for the development of my country, Ghana. We still have a long way to go to achieve sustainable water management as well as improved sanitation and waste management. This is one sector I’m passionate about and see my studies contributing to.”
Lora Forsythe, UK/Canada
Thesis title: The impact of staple crop value chain participation on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Nigeria and Malawi: changes in poverty, gender relations and food security.
“The purpose of my PhD and the research I hope to undertake in the future is to contribute to a greater understanding of the dynamics of inequalities in development processes. My hope is that the lessons from inequalities research will help improve development practices for the benefit of those who are most excluded and marginalised in society.”
Claudia Carvalho, Portugal
Thesis title: Understanding mechanisms and identifying markers for the onset of senescent sweetening of potato (Solanum tuberosum)
“My long-term aim is to build a research team within the Produce Quality Centre to develop a sustainable programme of research to support the UK potato industry. Through specialising in characterising changes in nutritional quality during storage, I hope to extend storage and the shelf-life of fresh produce to improve scheduling of UK-grown produce into the retail market as well as manage unpredictable transit times of imported produce whilst maintaining nutritional quality.”
Jane Elizabeth Robb, UK
Thesis title: Understanding drivers of deforestation using socio-psychological behavioural theory and the capability approach.
“I want to create a platform to encourage people to openly discuss corruption and social inequalities as part of local and global deforestation dialogues. It’s all too easy to talk about ‘surface’ drivers like agricultural expansion or monocultures, without actually addressing why these activities are increasing.”
Habibu Mugerwa, Uganda
Thesis title: Molecular characterisation of cassava-colonising populations of the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci.
“I plan to develop technologies that will make whiteflies, pests and vectors of viral diseases, have preference for weeds instead of important food security crops such as cassava and sweet potato to help address sub-Saharan Africa’s challenge in managing food security.”
Stavros Pyrotis, Greece
Thesis title: Evaluating effects of climate variability on postharvest quality of strawberries.
The Medway graduation ceremony took place on 25 July 2018 at Rochester Cathedral in Medway. Graduates were presented to the Chancellor of the University, Baroness Scotland, by NRI’s Director Professor Andrew Westby. Certificates were presented by the Faculty Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Martin Snowden. Following the ceremony, graduates had a group photo and joined friends and families in the Rose Garden for a celebratory drink.