Mrs Elizabeth - Lancaster University
The need for an improved understanding of the fate of pesticides in food, in agricultural production, and in the wider environment is of growing importance. Pesticide residues are a significant commercial problem for farmers, growers and retailers, since even when below the maximum permissible levels, there are consumer concerns due to perceived threats to health. The effects of pesticides on non-target organisms also causes wider environmental concerns, which extend beyond the agroecosystem, potentially to the global scale in the case of persistent organic chemicals. Despite the clear value of control measures other than pesticides, there is no doubt that pesticides will remain a key element of pest management across all sectors of food production. Thus, concerns around persistance and residues cannot be ignored. There is a particular residue problem with fresh produce such as salads and soft fruit. Fresh produce is a highly valuable sector of agriculture. In 2008 the total value in the UK alone of production of soft fruit and fresh vegetables was £331M and £1,101M respectively, substantially greater than oilseed rape (£618M), barley (£882M) or potatoes (£878M). Protected vegetables (i.e. those grown under plastic or glass) alone were worth £282M but this very high-value sector is especially prone to concerns over pesticide residues, as it has a high percentage of tested samples with detectable occurrences of residues. Despite this widely recognised problem, there is little understanding of why pesticide degradation may be slower in protected crops compared to open field conditions
Mr Joseph Fennell - Lancaster University
Originally from Oxfordshire, Joseph Fennell studied Biological Science at Lancaster University before embarking on a PhD. Following an internship and undergraduate research project in sustainable agriculture, his current research interests are related to the interaction of light and the crop ecosystem.
Pest and disease management in intense agricultural systems has often been based almost exclusively on the application of pesticides. This project will investigate how potential new products that manipulate the light environment of crops grown in greenhouses or tunnels can contribute to sustainable pest control, reducing both crop damage and pesticide usage. The project combines fundamental crop and pest biology with direct, practical application of the technology in the major production areas of the Mediterranean rim and Middle East.
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Dr Rachel Platel - Lancaster University
Dr Rachel Platel. I am interested in controlling monomer sequence in copolymerizations to prepare perfectly alternating copolymers. In particular, biocompatible and biodegradable polyesters such as polylactide and polycaprolactone are currently of great interest, largely due to their biomedical applications. However, controlling the rate of polymer degradation can be difficult. Combining two monomers with different physical properties allows the properties of the resulting polymer to be tuned. One of the simplest ways to control the sequence of monomers in a polymer would be through design of the metal initiator.
My research involves both the design of new group 3 and lanthanide complexes and their use as initiators in ring-opening polymerization reactions with combinations of a variety of cyclic ester monomers, with the aim of preparing alternating copolymers. I am also interested in determining the physical properties of the resulting materials and exploring possible applications. My research is interdisciplinary, encompassing inorganic, coordination, polymer and materials chemistry.
Professor Nigel Paul - Lancaster University
My research falls in to two broad areas, with the shared priority of building links between fundamental plant science and its application in sustainable agriculture and horticulture. My interest in interactions between plants and their natural enemies, invertebrate herbivores or pathogenic microbes, is founded on understanding the ecology of such interactions in non-crop systems (e.g. Senecio vulgaris and its rust Puccinia lagenophorae; Rumex spp. and their Uromyces rumicis and herbivores (especially the beetle Gastrophysa viridula). My interest in the ecology and physiology of these systems has expanded to build links between ecological studies of defence (especially defence against multiple enemies) and molecular research into similar topics. These cross-disciplinary studies have formed the foundation of more applied research in to new approaches to pest and disease control in sustainable agriculture. My interest in the effects of solar UV radiation on plants and their associated organisms was originally stimulated by concerns over stratospheric ozone depletion, which increases the intensity of UV-B radiation reaching the biosphere. Ozone depletion remains a significant environmental issue, despite the undoubted success of the Montreal Protocol, and I am a member United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) panel on the interactive effects of ozone depletion and climate change on health and the environment, which continues to provide up-to-date assessment of this topic for governments and policy makers. Much of my current research in to UV radiation now has a strong applied thrust, seeking to exploit biological responses to UV, in crops and their pests and pathogens, in sustainable horticulture.