Student receives inaugural $150,000 research scholarship

14 July 2015

Nikolai Macnee has been awarded a NZD $150,000 scholarship from agricultural giant BayWa AG to complete a four year research-based PhD in the field of horticulture.

Mr Macnee is a doctoral student at the Joint Graduate School in Plant and Food Science, a collaboration between the University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research. He will be working with Plant & Food Research’s Flowering & Fruit Development Team, headed by Dr Robert Schaffer, in the field of fruit development and molecular plant physiology for kiwifruit.

“The appearance of fruit is a key factor for consumers when differentiating new cultivars and fruit evaluating quality,” said Mr Macnee.

“The skin on fruit, in particular kiwifruit, can be smooth or hairy depending on the level of programmed cell death used in each species. My research will study the molecular and physiological events that determine whether kiwifruit skin will stay alive or die during fruit development. The research aims to guide breeding attempts of new kiwifruit cultivars and give a greater understanding of the triggers fruit development.”

The scholarship is the first of its kind for BayWa outside of Germany and sees the fulfilment of a commitment made during the purchase of fresh produce company T&G (formerly Turners & Growers).

Recently in New Zealand, BayWa Chief Executive Professor Klaus Lutz, presented Mr Macnee with the scholarship and took the opportunity to discuss the scholarship and the importance of science and research for the industry.

“BayWa, through the BayWa Foundation, is passionate about promoting and supporting education, healthy nutrition and renewable energy. When we acquired T&G we wanted to ensure that we created an educational opportunity in New Zealand that would benefit a local student and the industry.

“With Sir John Anderson on board to support the BayWa Foundation in New Zealand, we hope that Nikolai will be one of many New Zealand PhD students we can help support.”

The scholarship is managed by Education New Zealand on behalf of BayWa AG and strengthens the relationship between the German-based company and the New Zealand horticultural industry.

"We are delighted to be managing the scholarship on behalf of BayWa AG. It's a great opportunity to showcase our world class education, research and scholarship to the rest of the world,” said Christine Roberts, Scholarship Programme Manager, Education New Zealand.

Contact:
Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
EMail: media@plantandfood.co.nz
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365

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