As Norman Borlaug once said: “Without food, people perish, social and political organizations disintegrate, and civilizations collapse”. This sentence got stuck in me when I was a biology student and made me pursue a career in plant science.
For me, plant breeding is certainly one of the most exciting crafts. As a result, I took this challenging Ph.D. studentship to expand my knowledge in the field of quantitative genetics, computational biology (with implementation of genomic technologies), statistics, plant biology and improvement, and in designing new breeding strategies. The studentship is in conjunction with the Roslin Institute and is funded by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) which is concerned with agriculture in Scotland but also in low income nations around the world. Therefore, the motivation behind my project contains a hint of humane and social aspects to it as well, which is of high importance to me beyond my interests as a researcher. Through my postgraduate studies, I aim: (i) to successfully propose new breeding strategies that integrate genome-wide technologies in multiple-cropping production systems for small-scale farmers in developing countries, with possibilities for wider applications; (ii) to gain practical experience in the field in East Africa and generate a phenotypic and genotypic dataset which will be used for estimation of the genetic parameters of production traits in the annual grain crop finger millet (Eleusine coracana); and finally (iii) to use the same dataset to perform a genome-wide association study. Most of the project is based at the Roslin Institute where computational modelling, analyses, and stochastic simulations will be carried out using supercomputer facilities. From this studentship, I expect to gain a versatile knowledge which will enable me to continue my career as a competent plant breeder.
2017-present: PhD student
PhD in Plant breeding, The Roslin Institute and Scotland’s Rural College, Edinburgh, UK.
Thesis: Breeding strategies for integrating new and orphan crops in production systems
2015-2017: MSc Plant Biology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.
Thesis: Resistance against Dickeya solani in potato with the help of a susceptibility gene
2012-2015: BSc Biology
University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty, Slovenia.