We asked Abi a few questions about her Cranfield experience as an Agrifood and Environment PhD student. Read on to find out more…
My name is Abimbola Oluwakayode but most people call me Abi. I am a third year PhD research student sponsored by FoodBioSystem DTP BBSRC.
Tell us about your PhD topic.
My research focuses on developing a decision support system to minimise mould spoilage and mycotoxins contamination in stored cereal grains (wheat, oats, barley and maize).
Why did you choose to study at Cranfield?
During my undergraduate, I became interested in the subject of mycotoxin. After my MSc (Food Science and Innovation) at Manchester Metropolitan University, I saw a Mycotoxin related project as advertised by FoodBioSystem DTP (Maiden) scholarship. I applied for it, giving me the opportunity to work with the amazing mycotoxin experts within the Applied Mycology group at Cranfield. I am ready to learn from and work with my supervisors to have impactful research to mitigate mycotoxin problem within the food industry.
Also, as cereal grains are greatly utilized as food, feed and fuel needs in the UK and the world at large. My project aims to safely manage cereal grains storage to improve human and animal’s health and reduce food waste thereby fulfilling SDG2 – Zero Hunger.
What have been your highlights so far?
My supervisors (left to right) Prof. Rudolf Krska, Dr Julie Meneely, Prof. Angel Medina, Prof Naresh Magan. Picture taken at World Mycotoxin Forum (WMF), Parma, Italy May 2022.
My supervisory team is great and amazing right from my interview in 2020 to date. They have been a huge support. My supervisors are based at different universities (Cranfield University and Queen’s University Belfast UK). I started laboratory experiments since 2020 as the lockdown eased, using different laboratory facilities ranging from Microscope, CO2 sensors, LCMS-MS and lots more.
Working on different fungal genera and different cereal grains to create solution to real time problem is fascinating and encouraging.
I also have opportunity to assist master’s students in laboratory experiments.
What skills/expertise have you learnt so far.
I have learnt so much about Fungi eco-physiology through diligent study, lab experiment, and shared knowledge from my supervisors.
Fungi genera isolated from wheat, barley and maize samples in the mycology lab at Cranfield University.
I also had opportunity to be trained on analytical instrumentation- Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry LCMS/MS at Queen’s University Belfast UK in 2022. By extension, I was further trained by the Analytical team at IFA-BOKU Tulln Austria in 2023 with focus on method development, validation processes, data evaluation and the LCMS/MS instrumentation.
Training on Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LCMS/MS) at Institute for Global Food Security Biological Sciences. Special thanks to Prof. Chris Elliot Queen’s University Belfast UK. January- February 2022.
LCMS/MS training with Dr Michael Sulyok at BOKU IFA Tulln Austria, April 2023. Special thanks to Prof R. Krska.
Besides, through the DRCD courses, I have developed more skills such as writing/critical thinking skills, statistical data analysis and visualisation, innovative and business skills with the I2I business team at Bettany centre at Cranfield. I have also improved on my mentoring skills as organised by the FoodBioSystem DTP.
Other laboratory skills: Left Malt Extract Agar + Chloramphenicol (MEA+) media (1 Litre) plate pouring on petridishes and right Penicillium verrucosum spores counting with Olympus Microscope.
Ideas to innovation at the Bethany Centre for Entrepreneurship Cranfield University January 2023. Special thanks to Dr Shailendra Vyakarnam (left picture), Dr Jon Thomas (right picture) and Dr Orsolya Ihasz.
Have you attended any Conferences/Seminars?
I have attended and presented my posters at three conferences. Gordon Research Conference (GRC) Stonehill college, USA, 2023, the World Mycotoxin Forum at Parma Italy 2022 and the 25th British Mycology Society, 2022 hosted at Cranfield University. I also attended the Food Safety Conference Twickenham London, October 2022 Online. Lastly I had a seminar talk at the Royal Society of Chemistry, at the FoodBioSystem DTP PhD researcher’s meetings and Applied Mycology Group meetings. I look forward to sharing my research findings and knowledge at more conferences and seminars.
Gordon Research Conference (GRC) at Stone Hill College Easton. Massachusetts USA. June 2023.
Left World Mycotoxin Conference (WMF), Parma, Italy. May 2022. Right Poster presentation at British Mycology Society (BMS) 125th Anniversary conference at Cranfield University, April 2022.
What are your Future career goals?
Cranfield has helped me to develop my knowledge and acquire useful skills in the Mycotoxin research. I would want to keep exploring this either in the academia or industry. I am therefore flexible and open to opportunities.
What advice would you give for potential future students?
Embrace the study culture and cultural differences at Cranfield and explore all amazing opportunities that Cranfield offers for both personal and professional development.