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Moving out of the classroom and into the lab

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Four USQ undergraduate students got to rub elbows in labs with world-leading academics and scientists, thanks to a research scholarship program.

Organised by USQ’s Centre for Crop Health, the 10-week program was designed to spark students’ interest in a career in research, by giving students the opportunity to develop their research skills and gain experience in the research process.

It also allowed them to work with leading USQ researchers on a research project that suited their interests and professional aspirations.

Jarra Grigg is in his second year of a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biology, and said the program was a valuable experience.

“It was a unique opportunity because a lot of undergraduate students are not exposed to this level of research and don’t get many chances to carry out lab research during their course,” Mr Grigg said.

“Working with plant pathology experts Professor Levente Kiss and Dr Bree Wilson gave me a chance to see what it is like to conduct world-class research and all the steps and processes involved.

“Not only was it an important educational and professional experience, it also gave me the chance to think broadly about the variety of research options available to me once I finish my degree.”

One student who has a clear idea of her career direction is Christina Harris.

The second-year student, who is studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Environment and Sustainability, is interested in the effects of climate change on the growth of wheat and wants to pursue a career researching plant physiology.

“I want to learn more about how food security and agriculture is being impacted by climate change,” she said.

“In the long term, I aim to study ways to reduce nutrient run off from agricultural land use into catchment areas, so that I may work to improve farming practices and ultimately the water quality of the Great Barrier Reef.”

The 28-year-old mother said it was eye-opening to discover new insights into plant physiology from Associate Professor Saman Seneweera.

“While Saman’s work doesn’t lead me north to the Reef, he certainly did give me a better understanding of plant physiology and a greater appreciation of what it means to own a project and add value from start to finish,” Mrs Harris said.

Source: USQ

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