Scientists invite postgraduates to join food security training network

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have launched a new initiative to train researchers in the science needed to help secure the future of global food supplies and are inviting postgraduate students to enrol on two MSc courses.

Global food security is one of the greatest 21st century challenges. The combination of an expanding population, increased competition for land and water, climate change, and economic development is leading to major changes in food supply chain and consumption. The new programmes will enable young researchers to develop the knowledge, expertise and techniques required to address these complex issues.

Students can apply to the MSc in Advanced Biological Sciences, which offers research projects in many areas relating to food security, such as crop genomics, environmental microbiology, and biofuel improvement. The MSc in Veterinary Science programme focuses on infectious disease control in animals and epidemiology, with a specific pathway in veterinary conservation science.

Liverpool research in food security includes studies in collaboration with Indian researchers, investigating the anticipated effects of climate change on India’s monsoon season and the impact that alterations in India’s water cycle will have on disease outbreaks, agricultural production, and wildlife.

Research at the University has also led to the sequencing of the wheat genome – the largest genome to be sequenced to date – to help crop breeders sustain the yield of wheat varieties. Bread wheat, with an estimated world harvest of more than 550 million tonnes, is an essential food source for India, the UK and many other parts of the world. Data on the draft genome of wheat is now in the public domain to help plant breeders select key agricultural traits for breeding.

Other work includes research in collaboration with food retailers, focusing on reducing bacterial infections in chickens and decreasing incidences of food poisoning in humans. Researchers are combining scientific and sociological study to develop more effective policies for disease control.

Professor Martin Mortimer, from the University’s Institute of Integrative Biology, said: “It is estimated that by 2050 the world population will be nine billion, up 33% from six billion in 2009, which will put an enormous strain on food production. The effects of climate change, such as droughts, floods and other extreme weather events will also impact on the sustainability of crop systems. The University’s food security network brings together researchers across a wide range of disciplines, from business and management to health and environmental sciences.

“As well as working with academics, industry and policy makers, we are looking for postgraduate students who are interested in addressing this important global challenge.”

Applications for both MSc programmes are open now and students are encouraged to apply before August 2012 to allow documentation to be processed before the start of term in September next year.

For more information on the MSc in Advanced Biological Sciences please visit:

For information on the MSc in Veterinary Science please visit:

To find out more about all opportunities for study at the University please visit the international pages at:

For information on the University’s food security network please visit:

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