Article by Phoebe Hinton-Sheley
The scientific research community at the University of Wolverhampton is a big one – from biodegradable plastics, to re-discovering an extinct toad. Most students in the Faculty of Science and Engineering will have come across at least one research-active lecturer.
I interviewed Dr Timothy Baldwin, an active researcher and Reader in Plant Cell Biology here at The University of Wolverhampton, about his experiences in research and how this research is benefiting the world around us. Here’s what he had to say:
What is your research focused on?
My main research interest is the role of the plant cell wall in plant growth and development. In addition, I am also interested in a variety of other topics which include: plant/pathogen interactions, plant gum exudates, abiotic stress tolerance, phytoremediation and orchid conservation.
An example of my current research is a collaborative project with staff (Professor Li Chengyun) and research students based at Yunnan Agricultural University, P.R. China. The objective of this project is to investigate the role of the plant cell wall in the basal defence response of rice plants to infection by rice blast fungus (each year this fungal species causes harvest losses of 10-30% to the global rice yield). This study involves a molecular and cell biological analysis of the fungal infection process in cultivars (cultivated rice varieties) which are susceptible and resistant to infection by the fungus.
How long have you been actively researching at the university?
My research career at the University began in October 2003 when my first PhD student (Chen Wen) started her project.
What benefits do you feel your research has on the world?
The eventual aim of my work is to develop methods to prevent/reduce infection of rice by this pathogen, and thereby increase the yield of this important crop. This is a long-term, ongoing project the results of which will be of major significance to Chinese agriculture and to Chinese food security.
So, as you can see, research here at the University of Wolverhampton is really making a global difference. Hunger and low crop yields are becoming increasingly prevalent issues worldwide – this research could later be applied to other crops, and help improve harvest yields in struggling countries everywhere.
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