University of Sussex MSc students at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank
Alex Woodcraft and Thomas Roach spent time at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank whilst studying their Masters in Plant Conservation at the University of Sussex.
Alex Woodcraft at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank
“As part of the University of Sussex’s MSc in Plant Conservation (with Seed Banking), I carried out my research project at the Millennium Seed Bank. My time at the Seed Bank was undoubtedly the highlight of my MSc, and I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside leading plant scientists in the world-famous Seed Bank. I was very well supervised, and really enjoyed working on my project within a collaborative team environment. I have always been fascinated by plants and have a deep interest in the palm family. It has therefore been a privilege working on the development of cryopreservation protocols to successfully conserve the seeds of recalcitrant palm species. The insights I have gained whilst working on my project have given me enormous respect for the vital work that the Millennium Seed Bank does in the conservation and safeguarding of endangered plants around the world.”
Thomas Roach studied orchid seed germination at Kew's Millennium Seed Bank during his MSc research project (Image: RBG Kew)
"I have always wanted to stay within the discipline of conservation but have enjoyed the excitement of research. This led me to the MSc in Plant Conservation at the University of Sussex . The year-long course included a week at the Millennium Seed Bank, which was a real eye-opener into a novel ex situ strategy for conserving biodiversity. I saw the opportunity of combining my interests with work here, and was immediately drawn to the project.
After this introduction, I was keen to integrate my MSc research project in Dactylorhiza orchid hybrids with the Millennium Seed Bank, which they happily accommodated. However I soon learnt that orchid seed, being so small, is not the easiest to work with! It is difficult to know what next to do when coming out of education, especially with the financial pressures many students now face. The quality of the labs and equipment, combined with the expertise and knowledge of the MSB team helped in making my decision to apply for a PhD at the MSB looking into seed ageing related to oxidative stress.
This place is also unique in that it allows the public to see through into the labs, which I believe helps in opening up science. Seeds may well be a very specific area of research, and physiologically are not always the easiest subjects to work with, but the same research techniques apply to many other areas of science".
- Read more about the University of Sussex MSc in Plant Conservation
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