The fight for food security: The Halpin Scholars

Each year rice-blast disease destroys enough rice to feed more than 60 million people. 

The Halpin Scholars, funded by Exeter alumni the late Dr Leslie Halpin and his wife Claire, are PhD research students investigating the devastating disease to find a way to prevent it. Seven PhD students have trained to date including scholars from the rice-growing regions of Bangladesh, India, Thailand and Turkey.

The aim of the programme is to enable students from rice-growing countries in the developing world to come to Exeter to train in molecular plant pathology. They learn advanced techniques in genetics, genomics, cell biology and computational biology to enable them to be well-equipped for careers as independent plant pathologists in their own countries.

The Halpin Scholars benefit from being able to tackle difficult and challenging research questions that are beyond those normally encountered by international PhD students. This thorough training, coupled with the ability to tackle ground-breaking research projects has been a hallmark of the programme since its establishment by Les and Claire Halpin.

I always hope that my research will, somehow, help rice farmers including ones in my home country, Thailand.

Wasin Sakulkoo, Halpin Scholar