Plant Science London Field Course

Plant Science staff and students at Tozer Seeds as part of their recent field course

Plant Science staff and students at Tozer Seeds as part of their recent field course

  • 07 Apr 2017

The recent plant science field course to London was a great success.

Every year, as part of the Applied Plant Biology degree programme, 3rd year students take part in an innovative 4-day field course to London to visit some of the most important plant science institutions in the World. This year 18 students and 2 staff members (Prof. Astrid Wingler and Dr Eoin Lettice) took part in the trip.

Taking in Kew Gardens in Richmond (including the largest purpose-built herbarium in the World and the enormous fungarium), students got a behind-the-scenes tour of the scientific work going on at these institutions. Meeting with Kew scientists and exploring this iconic location is an integral part of this unique field course. The visit to the Kew fungarium is particularly appropriate given the key role played by Edwin John Butler in its establishment. Butler was a UCC graduate and it is after him the School of BEES' Butler Building has been named.

The group also visited the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst and once again got an excellent tour of the facilities including an opportunity to step inside the seed vault which holds the largest collection of non-crop seed in the World.

A visit to Syngenta's Jeallott's Hill facility allowed students exposure to further cutting-edge research and an opportunity to explore the company's various activities including plant breeding and the formulation and testing of new agricultural chemicals. The facility is home to the largest agricultural research greenhouse in Europe and the PS3020 students got a guided tour.

Based at the impressive Royal Holloway campus, the group also visited Tozer Seeds, a multinational, independent plant breeding company. Tozers and UCC Plant Science have a long history of collaboration. The course ended with a visit to Chelsea Physic Garden. Founded in 1673, CPG is home to more than 5,000 types of plant focussing on medicinal plants and those with an ethnobotanical interest.

Speaking about the field course, Dr Barbara Doyle Prestwich the module coordinator said it forms an integral part of the Applied Plant Biology degree programme: "Meeting a broad range of scientists on the trip gives invaluable insight into the variety of work being done by plant scientists across a range of sectors - from educational and outreach to plant breeding, plant conservation, horticulture, mycology, plant pathology and more. It really is a unique course and an important part of the overall APB degree programme here at UCC".

You can read some student reflections on the London field course here.

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