Hello and welcome, my name is Katie, and I am the founder of “the grains”. I would like to introduce you all to who we are, what we do and our goals. But first, let me properly introduce myself. I am at the University of Birmingham undertaking my PhD, as a CASE student, on the Midlands Intergrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP). MIBTP is a BBSRC funded Doctoral Training Partnership. My PhD focuses on the potential epigenetic mechanism underpinning grafting induced vigour in solanaceous crops, which is under the wise supervision of Dr Marco Catoni and works with Enza Zaden. As well as my studies, I enjoy the outdoors, gardening, playing tennis and cooking.
I founded “the grains” for a myriad of reasons. Prior to starting my PhD I was keen to join the world of plant science research, however, I found it challenging to locate open access communities, groups, or hubs. This was made more challenging with the changes COVID introduced into our lives, pushing us online. I hoped I could find resources to help me learn independently and communicate with others to find out more about pursuing a career in plant science research, such as different opportunities or training programs. I turned to connections to enquire about their career paths, hear about career advice, interesting lines of research or any opportunities they knew of to help me strive for my goals. Since starting my PhD, I have found national and local groups both research specific and generalised. This is the first part of what inspired me to develop the grains.
The second being a general lack of plant science communications in both the public eye and from the academic perspective. What is the public perspective on plant science? And how can we encourage people to pursue plant science in academia? Both questions are a task to answer. There has been a growing interest in plants in gen-z which has been observed in media like TikTok, however, there is little to no channelling of this into science. In my perspective, there is a lack of representation in the media and there needs to be more encouragement in academia towards plant science, especially with growing concerns related to food security, fuel sources and climate change.
From here, “the grains” was born. It aims to promote free publishing of blog posts and encourages people to write about things they are passionate about. That could be about new methods and how they compare to previous ones, your opinions on plant illustrations, or recent developments in a field. We hope to provide a platform for people in the community to share their passions to others and help more people access this world. Second, we hope to build a strong resource hub for both students and professional alike. With a collection of resources to help you learn, collect and/or analyse data. These two aspects will be brought into full circle with the community aspect of “the grains”. This will allow you to build an account, connect with other users, write public posts to ask question or for help with issues etc. We look to develop groups, specific to an area, for which people can join a community with the same issues and needs. Although “the grains” is mainly catered towards the academia angle, we hope to grow the site to include the public angle. To promote awareness of growing concerns, challenges and research outcomes. This is an area we firmly look to develop and grow into.
From all of us at “the grains”, welcome and I hope you find our site helpful!