Meet Hajar el Hamss, current PhD student at NRI whose work focuses on the interactions between whitefly, the bacteria inside whitefly, and a virus causing a devastating disease affecting the tropical root and important food security crop, cassava. Today, it is Hajar’s turn to be under the microscope as we take a close look at her career path and explain her passion for solving scientific puzzles.
Ghana, 5–8 September, 2016
Press release written by: Nicola Swann
Members of the African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS) network – including postharvest experts from over 30 sub-Saharan African countries and representatives from FAO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – gathered in Accra this month, to attend the launch of APHLIS+.
Launched in 2009, APHLIS is a scientific model which provides evidence-based estimates on postharvest cereal losses (PHLs) across 38 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Saturday 20th August is World Mosquito Day. It might seem strange to ‘celebrate’ the mosquito, given their role in the spread of many infectious diseases, such as yellow fever, West Nile Virus and the recent global health emergency created by the Zika virus. However, the relationship between mosquitoes and the spread of disease was not always known. World Mosquito Day celebrates the discovery of the role mosquitoes play in malaria transmission. On this day in 1897, Sir Ronald Ross made a breakthrough that would later earn him a Nobel Prize in Medicine when he found malaria parasites in dissected mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. By identifying mosquitoes as the agents that spread the parasite from person to person, Ross opened the way for us to reduce the risk of malaria infection by controlling the mosquito itself.
Knowing that the food we eat is safe is important to us all. But what exactly is meant by food safety, and who is responsible for it? These topics were discussed at a round-table meeting on 30th June 2016, when a delegation from the Nigerian Senate Health Committee met with a team of experts at NRI. The Nigerian delegation included Dr Rukevwe Ugwumba, Consultant and Committee member of the Nigerian Federal Senate Committee on Health, and Mrs O. Omobo, Consultant with the World Health Organisation (WHO).
NRI’s PhD students recently showcased their work at the First Annual NRI Postgraduate Symposium. This initiative, designed and carried out by the students themselves, highlighted not only the students’ research but shone a spotlight on their resourcefulness, creativity, enterprise and teamwork. The event, which took place on the 20th May at the University of Greenwich Medway Campus, provided a professional platform for students to discuss their work, sharpen their communication skills and fostered networking across the Institute.
Can you imagine sweet potato crisps suffused with seafood curry, lime and coconut or thyme and chilli? Or if you have a sweet tooth, how about some energy-packed sweet potato breakfast bars, combining exotic mango and passionfruit, or chocolate and chilli…? This is just a small sample of snacks developed by NRI students as part of their Master’s programmes this year. Recently, students had the opportunity to showcase their work at a product development event at NRI, where guests from the Kenya High Commission in London and the Kenyan sweet potato industry sampled the innovative products.
Rodents, particularly rats, elicit a strong reaction in most people – from fear, to loathing, to disgust – and with good reason, for we know they can transmit diseases, destroy food crops and damage infrastructure. But what do we do when rodents get out of control? NRI’s Professor Steve Belmain will discuss rodent reproduction and control at his Inaugural Professorial Lecture entitled “Sex, Breeding and Population Dynamics: When Rodents Get out of Control” taking place on the 8th June, 2016 at the University of Greenwich’s Medway Campus.
NRI is at the forefront of a battle to beat losses of food crops after harvest, known specifically as ‘postharvest losses’. When food is lost after harvest, it also means wasted agricultural inputs such as seeds, water, land use, fertiliser, labour and transport that were invested in growing the food. In addition, any pollution or carbon dioxide released during the process will have been in vain. But what is the extent of this loss, and what can we do to reduce it?
At the beginning of the year, NRI embarked on a series of engagements in China, including involvement in the First World Congress on Root and Tubers Crops and the signing of a number of agreements with Chinese Research Institutes and Universities.
To catch a killer, you have to understand it, and know its movements. Malaria is particularly deadly, killing 450,000 people a year, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. The disease is spread by mosquitoes including Anopheles gambiae. This mosquito usually bites people at night, though its changing habits mean that it is starting to bite people outdoors and earlier in the day, before people are under their insecticide-treated bed nets. To eradicate malaria, we must know more about An. gambiae, in order to develop effective methods of control. A novel study published recently in Scientific Reports shows that bacteria found all over the mosquito contain vital clues about a mosquito’s origins and daily movements.