Scholar wins prestigious PhD award

Carol Ibe has been awarded a prestigious award for her research into a fungus that can destroy up to 30% of rice in a field.

This novel finding could be applied towards the development of effective disease control strategies against the rice blast disease, which can destroy up to 30% of rice in the field.

Carol Ibe

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been awarded a highly competitive Cambridge Society for the Application of Research PhD Student Award.

Carol Ibe [2015] is the first black student to win the award, which recognises outstanding research with real world application and assists students to pursue their research or careers. She won for her PhD research, which has discovered the regulatory role of three rice receptor-kinases during intracellular accommodation of a rice leaf pathogen (Magnaporthe oryzae) in rice roots. Carol says the finding  potentially describes a new mechanism adopted by the pathogenic fungus to trick, invade and gain control of the host plant machinery, and subsequently cause disease in the crop. She adds: "This novel finding could be applied towards the development of effective disease control strategies against the rice blast disease, which can destroy up to 30% of rice in the field."

The awards, which come with a cash prize of  £1,000, were presented by Professor Andrew Neely, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for  Enterprise and Business Relations at the University of Cambridge on Tuesday.

Carol was one of 12 winners who were shortlisted from more than 200 candidates.

In addition to her research, Carol is the founder of the non-profit  organisation JR Biotek Foundation which provides high-quality scientific laboratory training and teaching resources to Africa-based research scientists, lecturers and students. It has just held a workshop in Benin which trained 100 agricultural researchers from 19  African countries. It also holds an annual Molecular Laboratory Training Workshop and a UK-Africa Food Security Symposium at the University of Cambridge. Carol took part in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges meeting in October to speak both about her PhD research and her work with the JR Biotek Foundation.