Hi, my name is Marta Sanzo, I am doing an MSc in Food Systems and Management. My thesis is focused on postharvest and it is all about the investigation of ethylene-induced Dormancy delay in onion bulbs.

So far, my thesis project is going really well, and I am feeling very relaxed currently! Initially, the majority of my project was going to be carried out in the Plant Science Laboratory on campus, but due to the social distancing restrictions, I have not been able to carry these experiments and gather my own data. I am very fortunate though to be able to use someone else’s data from the same experiment that was collated before Covid-19 and the lab restrictions. This has meant that I have still been able to do my scientific paper, which is a new writing style for me, so I am learning all the time! I was really looking forward to being able to use the Plant Science labs and facilities in my thesis project but I feel I have adapted well to the change in circumstances and have not let this hinder my thesis and have managed to turn this into a positive and I feel that I have adapted well to working from home.

I am a very straightforward thinking person and as I have the data from another source I just want to know all the details of the experiment, so I am looking forward to the possibility of labs opening so that I have the opportunity to go in and perform the experiment. I feel this will be a really nice completion to my project to know that I have done the practical element and followed all the steps that are described in the experiment of the data I am using.

Postharvest for fresh fruit and vegetables is an area of research that I find really fascinating. I wrote about this in my undergraduate dissertation so to be able to study modules in this subject this year and then be able to focus on this for my thesis was very exciting. Through my work into the dormancy break in onions I aim to investigate how we can reduce food waste within the food industry and I feel proud of the impact that this will have on sustainability as this is a worldwide concern.

At the start of the project I felt overwhelmed with having to choose a topic to research about and I just couldn’t decide! I wanted to make sure I picked something good and an interesting topic and something I was going to enjoy working on as well a topic which was important!

The support from supervisors has been amazing and I do not feel any negative effect of not being on campus. Sometimes I feel explanations would be easier face to face rather than over a video call, but my supervisor is very responsive via email and I feel welcomed to ask whenever I have a problem. Working on our group projects remotely prepared us to work on our thesis at home as we were already familiar with remote working practices and meetings online.

When the weather is nice, I love to go for walks around campus and on the forest trails nearby. I have been able to explore more of Cranfield as a village on my walks and this is something I have really enjoyed. My housemates and I also like to go for socially distanced BBQs at another one of our friends’ houses as we can take our minds off work for a bit! But if the weather is not good this is not a problem as me and my housemates enjoy cooking with new recipes, so far this has been very successful! We also like to watch Netflix, and we have enjoyed watching Dark, which is a German series and the last season has recently come out. So, I highly recommend watching that!

At the moment I’m in the process of submitting my application for a PhD position here in the Agrifood Department at Cranfield! This is something I am really looking forward to as I would like to carry on with the lab work and research that I have started this year. When the lockdown was announced and we had to stay home I really started to miss practical lab work and hopefully I will be able to carry on this if I stay for a PhD.

So, fingers crossed I am successful… wish me luck!

Studying at Cranfield has really opened my eyes to the reality of a career in the field of research and I am excited about the opportunity to work on something I am passionate about. This time last year I would never have thought I would be applying for a PhD! Everybody always thinks “wow three or four years of working and studying! Won’t you get fed up?” but with Cranfield’s amazing Plant Science Laboratory, other facilities in post-harvest and my real interest in my research topic I know this is an opportunity I do not want to miss out on! Additionally I want to carry on my Cranfield experience as I feel this was cut short due to lockdown so I am going to take advantage of everything I can once campus reopens and if I am able to complete my PhD. There is also a lot of exploring around England I am yet to do!

Lastly, I realised that working remotely on the group project and now the thesis project has developed my teamwork, communication and oral presentational skills and I now feel more prepared and confident for coming to study here at Cranfield and I am looking forward to my future career within the food industry.

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