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Francis Wamonje

Wamonje-Francis.jpgI was bitten by the PhD bug while working at an international agricultural research organization in Nairobi, Kenya. While there, I saw many of my colleagues leave for overseas countries to pursue their postgraduate education. While I desired the same, one of the main questions at the back of my mind was how would I remain in touch with Africa-relevant research? I was very excited when a new Cambridge led research collaboration was announced with a focus on African crop agriculture.

While at the department of plant sciences I was amazed at the high quality of faculty, facilities and the numerous opportunities to collaborate across scientific disciplines. Having not come from a plant virology background, I took every opportunity to learn the intricacies of the new discipline. I benefited greatly from the excellent mentorship provided by my supervisor, Dr John Carr. What would have been a steep learning curve became a very enjoyable learning experience. It is possible to learn something new every day at the department of plant sciences. At times, the tea room feels like a mini lecture room where one-on-one tutoring is occurring.

For me, one of the highlights over the years was the Department Research Day. It was exciting to see the senior faculty bring out their A game and describe the latest findings of the research being done by their students and postdocs. A lot of what was presented was world leading research. As a student, I was gratified whenever my work, usually one slide or two, made the 'final cut' of my supervisor's presentation. Aside from this, there were always numerous forums to listen to talks by world leading plant scientists and to present my work. Finally, being in Cambridge led me to realise the importance of being at the front line of discovery and innovation. At the department, I was surrounded by forward thinking people keen on being world changers. I would like to think that part to that good 'DNA' is now part of me for life.

Francis Wamonje, April 2013