Knowledge for a sustainable world

Hayley Thompson has finally found her ‘ideal job’ – identifying pathogens in rodents – here at NRI, University of Greenwich. Her career journey to become a Molecular Microbiologist has taken her on a circuitous route, and has involved a variety of roles and projects, juggling work with childcare and long commutes along the way. Hayley takes up the story:

Self-confessed ‘foodie’ Eli Gasgil wanted to keep as many career options open as possible, but found herself being drawn irrevocably towards working in the food industry. Now happily in her dream job, she credits NRI for giving her the necessary skillset to make the move. Eli takes up the story.

Katie James, Lydia O’Meara, Rania Hassan |

The obstacles facing women in academia exist at multiple stages in their career. Despite the fact that over half of all PhDs have been awarded to women in recent years, the percentage of permanent female academic staff is between 20–30% in the EU and US, and women are currently underrepresented as first authors in high-impact journals [1]. Women in the UK occupy only 17.5% of senior academic positions [2]; of this, only 2% are women of colour [3].

Claudia Carvalho went from being a specialist in potatoes and other tuber and root crops at NRI, to becoming a soft fruit supremo at Berry Gardens, a leading berry and stone fruit production and marketing group in Kent, UK. Her love of crops and all things agricultural has also satisfied her love of travel, taking her from Europe to America, Africa and Asia . Claudia took five minutes out of her day to talk to NRI Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about how she chose her career path and her ongoing passion for agriculture.

2020 was the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH), set up by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations as a significant opportunity to celebrate the benefits of healthy plants. As some key initiatives were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the awareness-raising year was extended until summer 2021. This was when Ambrozy Boguslawski, Biochemistry undergraduate from Southampton University, undertook a Plant Health Undergraduate Studentship with NRI.

NRI PhD student Manuela Carnaghi’s winning streak continues apace, with her recent victory in the National Three Minute Thesis – 3MT – competition where doctoral researchers compete to deliver the best research presentation in just three minutes and using just one slide. Manuela’s 3MT presentation entitled, ‘Houston, the mosquito has landed’, was voted for by the audience as the best presentation and won the People’s Choice Award. Manuela takes up the story.

Bradley Cory dreamed of becoming a commercial airline pilot, but a life-changing incident that happened when he was just 16 forced a total reassessment of his future. Obtaining his first degree at the University of Greenwich and working on his PhD with NRI, Bradley is forging a new career coupled with a desire to ‘give something back’. Bradley took five minutes out of his day to chat with NRI Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about his life and goals.

Dr Valentine Seymour is a research scientist whose interests focus on the interface between human health, policy and the natural environment. Valentine began her scientific career with a BSc in Environmental Science from NRI at the University of Greenwich. She took five minutes out of her day to chat to NRI’s Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about making the switch from arts to science, and how her idea of bliss is to have a good rummage in a river.

Babajide Milton Macaulay grew up in Nigeria dreaming of becoming an architect, but his grades at school were always much higher in biology, so he decided to follow the life sciences path instead. Milton took five minutes out of his day to Skype with NRI Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about how studying at NRI built a solid foundation for him to reach his career goals.

Uche Okpara recently joined NRI staff as Fellow in Climate Change and State Fragility, but he was no stranger to NRI, having completed his MSc here in 2010. He had grown up watching his parents struggle to make a living from their Nigerian small-scale farming and food business which always seemed to be at the mercy of weather patterns, climatic changes and conflict. Uche took five minutes out of his day to Skype with NRI Communications Officer, Linden Kemkaran, about his ambition to find workable solutions for his parents and many others like them, and how he plans to use his NRI skills to make a difference in Africa.

Richard Lloyd Mills is an NRI PhD student who has just been awarded an £11,000 grant from the British Egg Marketing Board which will enable him to undertake further research into the genetic makeup of the Poultry Red Mite - a pest which affects chickens’ health and productivity. Richard took five minutes out of his day to Skype with Communications Officer Linden Kemkaran, about what inspired him to study this “tiny and annoyingly fast” little pest, and what the grant money means to his work.

Paul Hyatt confesses to being a life-long lover of all things geographic and that he felt like a ‘kid in a sweet shop’ when he studied with NRI at the University of Greenwich. Paul took five minutes out of his day to Skype with Communications Officer Linden Kemkaran, about his passion for fusing technology and geography and where it’s taken him during his long career.