Spotlight 2018

Ewen Mullins - Head of Crop Science, Teagasc, Oak Park

4 Dec 2018
Ewen Mullins

Dr. Ewen Mullins is the newly appointed Head of the Crop Science Department at Teagasc, Oak Park in Carlow. Dr. Mullins graduated with a PhD in Plant Science from UCC before joining Teagasc as a researcher in 2002. His expertise in the area of crop improvement is especially important at a time when the Irish tillage sector is undergoing significant challenges. We talk to Ewan about his UCC days and how it taught him the importance of resilience, patience and problem-solving.

Course/subjects studied in UCC and year of graduation
I graduated with a PhD in Plant Science in 1996, having spent a memorable 4 years in what was then the Honan Biological Institute. Located in front of the church, the original Plant Science Department was demolished in 2002 to facilitate the expansion of the Student Centre.

Best memory of University College Cork
My best memory of UCC is the people that I met and learnt from. The Plant Science department had some great characters with a great learning environment. While resources were always tight, we always managed to ‘engineer’ our way through the problems.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
My time at UCC instilled in me the importance of resilience, patience and problem-solving. Research projects by their nature rarely go according to plan, so being creative and patient in how you approach the inevitable problems is key. My PhD training at UCC provided me with so many skill sets that I still use today and pass on to PhD students and post-docs in my team.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
Enjoy every minute and take up as many practical training opportunities that come your way. Obviously having a good degree is important, but having relevant work/training experience and detailing it on your CV really has a positive impact on your future employers.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
I was extremely fortunate to have had an excellent PhD supervisor in Prof. Peter Jones. Recently retired from UCC, Pete instilled in me the basics of research methodology and problem-solving which set me up for my career. His supervision and patience was something that I was always aware of but did not fully appreciate until I began supervising students myself! In addition to Pete, the technical staff in Plant Science were a constant support and in addition to my fellow students and lab partners always kept me grounded.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
At the time UCC and Shandon Rowing Club were closely aligned due to low numbers in both clubs. I rowed for 3 years and have great memories of regattas and friends made.

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