Oxford students make their way to Illinois’ research fields

This summer, a new exchange programme allowed nine interns from the University of Oxford the opportunity to conduct research alongside highly qualified researchers and experience a different culture at the University of Illinois. 

Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) is an international research project that is engineering plants to photosynthesize more efficiently to increase the yields of staple food crops. All RIPE interns were paired with a supervisor to help with a specific component of the project.

“I’ve become extremely invested in the RIPE project,” said Isla Causon, a RIPE summer intern from Oxford. “The hope is for my data to become useful within the project for our long-term goal: to increase photosynthetic efficiency and boost crop yields.” 

Other interns worked for Water Efficient Sorghum Technologies (WEST), a research project that is developing crops that require less water to improve agricultural productivity, sustainability, and resiliency. 

As the summer is winding down, all of the interns believe that they will take back valuable skills that will help them in their future endeavors. 

“I have been given a great amount of responsibility while working on my project,” said Robert Collison, a WEST summer intern from Oxford. “I’ve been able to gain experience using technologies that I will be able to use throughout my degree and beyond.” 

The interns said that this well-rounded experience gave them the opportunity to travel to another country and meet new people while learning the ropes of research and how to collect data from top-notch researchers.

These interns began with an interest in biology, but now they can see how their efforts can be translated to help create a food secure future. 

This article was written by Monica Kennedy and first published here.