Rui wins Researcher of the Year 2015

29 April 2015

Rui wins Researcher of the Year 2015

Rui Catarino, one of the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development's PhD students, has won the Graduate School's prestigious title of: Research Student of the Year for the Faculty of Life Science, and is now set to compete against three candidates for the title of the PhD Researcher of the Year.

Rui's success is based on his current research: Modelling the Effect of the Introduction of Bt Crops on Multiple Pest Population Dynamics and Economic Returns to Farmers.

He said: "I am delighted that my work has been recognised in such a prestigous manner. I am currently in my third year of study and I have had the privilege of sharing long hours of academic discussion with brilliant PhD collegues and exceptional staff. This award fuels my ambition to deliver worldwide prominent research."

Overview of Rui's award winning research:

New technical innovations in agriculture, such as the employment of genetically modified (GM) crops, have the potential to influence agro-ecological interactions. The effects may be positive (e.g. higher profits and lower pesticide applications) or negative (e.g. rise of non-susceptible pests and impact on non-target organisms). Presently, no research has been conducted on the ecological dynamics of pests and their economic impact. This research fills this gap in the literature by examining the long-term ecological interactions on which the sustainability of GM crops depend.

As part of Rui's research he developed a bioeconomic model that demonstrates the population dynamics of two competing insect species, and the resulting economic impact on conventional and GM maize. The model allows for the assessment of different pest management options (such as insecticide applications or the use of biological control - natural enemies) over time.

Results indicate that some of the benefits associated with the adoption of GM crops may be eroded when taking into account pest dynamics and the additional costs associated with the control of secondary pests. Hence, it is concluded that a comprehensive knowledge of how agro-ecological systems interact and evolve is needed to effectively evaluate the full impacts of GM crops.

Rui is now set to compete against the other three Faculty-level winners for the title of: PhD Researcher of the Year. Each will give a short presentation on their research and experience at Reading at the Doctoral Research Conference on 18 June 2015.

Other candiadtes include:
Arts, Humanities and Social Science: Kristina West (Languages & Literature)
Henley Business School: Adeyinka Adewale (Leadership Organisation & Behaviour)
Science: Graeme Marlton (Mathematical and Physical Sciences)

The overall winner will be presented with a certificate and an award of £250 from the Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell. The remaining Faculty winners will each receive an award of £100.

Research funding

This research forms part of the 'Assessing and Monitoring the Impacts of Genetically Modified Plants on Agro-ecosystems' (AMIGA) project. The AMIGA project was funded by the European Commission under Framework Programme 7.

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