Monday, July 22, 2013

PSA Travel Award Report

PSA  Travel Award Report

Marina Borges Osorio, PhD student – School of Plant Biology

With combined funding from the PSA Conference Travel Award and the GRS Travel Award, I attended the BIONUT Summer School held in Gargnano (Italy) last June. The event is part of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network, an initiative involving nine renowned European research centres, such as Rothamsted Research and the John Innes Centre in the UK, and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology in Germany.

During the Summer School I learned about different aspects of plant mineral nutrition in a challenging and stimulating atmosphere. The scientific program was spread over three full days and included lectures from twenty first-class experts on plant nutrition, followed by short presentations from sixteen selected students with free-flowing discussion periods after each talk. I was among a group of eight guest students who had been selected to speak. The other eight student speakers were from the BIONUT network. In total, about seventy postgraduate students took part of the school.

In my talk I explored the connections between plant nutrition and pathogen defence in plants. This topic is a central aspect of my PhD research that focuses on how phosphite protects plants against Phytophthora, the pathogen that causes dieback and is devastating native ecosystems across southern Australia, including the internationally recognized biodiversity hotspot in southwestern Australia. My talk was a great opportunity to showcase the research carried out at UWA and discuss with the European community an issue that not only affects Australia, but which is also relevant worldwide.

Most of the participants were hosted at Palazzo Feltrinelli, a beautiful venue for the summer school and also the place we gathered for meals. The meals were in fact an added attraction, firstly for giving us a taste of the best Italian cuisine and secondly for being a great opportunity to network with experts and students in a very casual and friendly environment.

Overall, the knowledge gained, the connections made and the venue visited made this event a memorable experience that greatly contributed to my professional and personal growth. 

Students ready for the last dinner of the Summer School

View from Palazzo Feltrinelli, Gargnano

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