For many years TMAF has helped to finance the research work by PhD students. This year we have decided to start to wholly fund PhD studies. Here’s an explanation of why we chose Harvey Armstrong as the first recipient and what his research journey will be.
The effects of legume rotations on soil microbial populations
There is a lot to understand about agricultural soil and how farm practices affect it. So, the research topic ‘The effects of legume rotations on soil microbial populations’ is of great interest to us. It ties neatly in with TMAF’s long-term interests in understanding and enhancing soil quality.
Harvey Armstrong, who completed an Integrated Masters in Biological Sciences at Cardiff University in 2020, shares our interest and was chosen from the applicants and other topics proposed to be the first TMAF fully-funded PhD student. Harvey’s studies will involve field sampling, molecular biology and computational studies.
As reported by NIAB, we created this studentship programme in order to build our support for educational research that fits our remit rather than just funding ad-hoc research applications, although these will still be considered for support. TMAF worked with NIAB to select two potential PhD topics for consideration by the Plant Science Graduate Studies Committee regarding their suitability for PhD training.
Morley fields and NIAB labs
NIAB Cambridge will be the base for Harvey Armstrong and where he will be under the supervision of NIAB’s Dr Tom Wood and the University of Cambridge’s Dr Nik Cunniffe. However, Harvey will be a frequent visitor to the farm at Morley.
TMAF trustee Dr Steve Rawsthorne will also be one of Harvey’s supervisors. “The new TMAF Studentship Programme is an important development for the charity” he says, “adding significantly to its overall portfolio of funding”.
The TMAF PhD student programme is already being reported in the farming media. Gaining publicity for the programme and for the work of each student appointed is welcome.
One TMAF PhD is just the start
TMAF intends to fully fund another PhD student each year. This will mean that we build up a supportive cohort of four, fully-funded, farmer-led, research studentships over a four-year PhD training cycle. These students will form a strong relationship with TMAF – and the farming community we serve – into the future.