AfriPlantSci19 Draws To A Close

The final few days of the AfriPlantSci summer school 2019 at Pwani University, Kilifi, Kenya were upon us.

The final sessions revolved around insect-mediated disease led by Saskia Hogenhout, assisted by Roland Wouters and James Canham. After learning a little about the theory behind the science, participants went out in to the university botanical garden and plant tunnels to search for aphids. In the lab, DNA was then extracted and analysed from the collected aphids using molecular techniques practiced in research laboratories which are interested in understanding insect-mediated diseases.

Slowly but surely, the end of AfriPlantSci19 was approaching. It wasn’t over just yet however, people who had been working on their ‘concept note’ from the first week were given the chance to present their findings and get feedback on their work and ideas. Also, we had a group writing session where everyone contributed something towards the single-figure paper we wished to publish regarding transient green fluorescent protein in Amaranth. Everyone was tasked on writing a specific portion of the paper and everyone gave feedback and made alterations to the wording itself once it had been compiled. It was great to get everyone involved with something like this where we would hopefully produce a tangible output which could go on to help fellow researchers in similar regions.

The AfriPlantSci19 summer school ended with a closing ceremony featuring the Pwani University vice-chancellor where certificates, awards and plenty of gratitude were given to the participants and course facilitators.

Overall the AfriPlantSci summer school 2019 was a roaring success. I feel strongly that both participants as well as us facilitators and organisers got a lot out of the course; we all learnt a lot. It was fantastic to meet, network and form potential future collaborations with participants, all of whom were so talented, enthusiastic and passionate about science. I am sure we will all stay in contact and many of us may be working together in the near future, which I think speaks volumes about the success of this summer school. The diverse range of skills developed, knowledge of research learned and experience in the laboratory gained will help these participants in their onward careers and I am confident that we will see many success stories in the world of plant and agricultural research from individuals who took part in the course.

Danny Ward

[Key personnel/contributors linked to this project:

Pwani University (Kilifi) – Dr. Santie de Villiers ¦ Dr. Rose Kigathi

John Innes Centre/UEA – Dr. Tilly Eldridge, Chris Darby, Angela Payne, Dr. Jodi Lilley, Matt Heaton, JIC Graduate School Office ¦ UEA Internships and Placements team ¦Hans Pfalzgraf ¦ Danny Ward   

BecA-ILRI hub (Nairobi) – Dr. Jean-Baka Domelevo Entfellner ¦ Dr. Peter Emmrich ¦ Dr. Wellington Ekaya

We would like to extend our gratitude to all those listed, along with all others, who contributed and supported towards this project in various capacities – this wouldn’t have been possible without your help

“This work was supported by the Norwich Research Park Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP), by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of the United Kingdom (BBSRC) through the BBSRC-STARS grant with reference BB/R020272/1 awarded for the ABCF Bioinformatics Community of Practice, and by the BecA-ILRI Hub through the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) program. The ABCF program is funded by the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) through the BecA-CSIRO partnership; the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA); the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF); the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and; the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)”]

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