New Zealand plant and food science boosted by new joint graduate school

24 November 2010

The University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research have joined together to create the prestigious new Joint Graduate School in Plant and Food Science, the first collaboration of its kind in New Zealand.

The School will focus on educating postgraduate students with an interest in plant science (including plant pests) and in food science related to plant-derived foods, functional foods, food ingredients and nutraceuticals. The goal is to double the number of masters and PhD students enrolled in these fields to at least 100 students by 2015.

The complementary research activities and facilities of the University and Plant & Food Research means that the close link between the two institutions will increase the number and range of research projects available to students, and provide students with greater access to scientific expertise, research infrastructure and industry links.

It is the intention of the School to build an international reputation based on science excellence and relevance in postgraduate teaching and research, says Dr Ian Ferguson, Chief Scientist at Plant & Food Research and Chairman of the Graduate School Management Committee.

“Plant-based industries are a major contributor to New Zealand’s economic success, with food industries contributing around half of the country’s export earnings including more than $3 billion directly from horticulture,” says Dr Ferguson. “By widening access to research expertise, and increasing the number of experienced researchers in this area, we can contribute more effectively to this critical part of the economy and ensure that we have the right science and the right people for the future.”

The collaboration will significantly enhance the education and research experience for postgraduate students by offering a wide range of fundamental and applied science education and career opportunities, says Dean of Science at The University of Auckland, Professor Grant Guilford.

“The Joint Graduate School will increase the pool of top young scientists with New Zealand-relevant education in plant and food science available for employment in both industry and academia. It will also enhance the employment-readiness of students by facilitating the inclusion of industry training needs in their education,” says Professor Guilford.

“As well as the many benefits for postgraduate students the closer relationship will promote research collaborations between the University and Plant & Food by creating enduring connections between scientists and with industry, including through initiatives such as the co-appointment of staff.”

While its current focus is on research postgraduate students, the Joint Graduate School may in future develop taught postgraduate courses to further enhance the employment readiness of recent graduates in plant and food science.

A Joint Management Committee composed of senior University and Plant & Food staff has been formed to oversee the development and running of the School, and monitor the quality and relevance of the postgraduate programme. It will appoint a Director and provide support for teaching and the development of research programmes to best meet the future needs of New Zealand science and industry.

Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365

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