LettUs Grow welcomes doctoral research student for indoor farming placement

Image credit: Lettus Grow

Bristol-based AgriTech company, LettUs Grow, recently welcomed Sam Brooks, a Bristol University PhD student, for a three-month placement in their organisation. Ben Crowther, LettUs Grow CTO and Bristol Graduate, shares his thoughts on the scheme. 

 A new initiative launched by the Bristol Doctoral College is inviting organisations to participate in the Bristol Industrial PhD Placement scheme. This involves sending Doctoral Researchers on funded three-month science and engineering placements in a range of sectors – from startups and SMEs to larger companies, government bodies and policy organisations. 

 As University of Bristol graduates, we were particularly keen to get involved. LettUs Grow was set up by the three founders – Jack Farmer, Charlie Guy and myself – whilst still at University. We wanted to tackle some of the biggest problems facing the planet: global warming and food security. By combining our backgrounds in engineering and biology, we found innovative ways of using aeroponics to help indoor farmers scale up their operations to compete with traditional agriculture.  

 It has been a pleasure to travel full circle and support an internship after completing a number of them myself whilst studying at the University of Bristol. This internship programme has cemented the University as a key source of future talent and we look forward to working with more doctoral researchers in the future. 

 This year we welcomed Sam Brooks, a doctoral researcher in the field of thermodynamics, onto the LettUs Grow team. Sam was a crucial member of staff during his time here. His wealth of experience, unique skills and fresh perspective were invaluable to a number of our projects. During his placement, he helped us build one of Europe’s first vertical aeroponic farms in central Bristol, an incredible achievement.  

 The placement wasn’t just great for us, Sam had a fantastic time too. Here’s what Sam had to say about the experience: 

 “Working for a small company meant that I was exposed to all areas of the business. LettUs Grow was keen that I should try everything from manufacturing products to harvesting crops, so I could understand all aspects of the business. The work was incredibly varied, and no two weeks were the same. One week I might be doing complex calculations and the next I could be building an indoor farm from the ground up. Academia often feels quite slow, but at LettUs Grow there was something new happening every week. 

 “The placement opened my eyes to a whole new area of research and career opportunities that I would never have considered before. Even with a project so far removed from my field of research, it was impossible not to notice crossovers. It has given me confidence that I can adapt and be a useful asset to a company. Having work experience during your PhD is incredibly useful on your CV. It shows that you have the soft skills to succeed in all types of work.  

 “University research can be very solitary, so it was great to be back working in a team. It was a pleasure working with everyone at LettUs Grow. They were all incredibly fun, supportive and welcoming. I would recommend it to anyone!”


Further information

Interested in how you can get involved in a placement with Industry, or want to learn more about the benefits of such an experience? Attend an upcoming talk on The Value of Placement, Tuesday 20th November from 18:00-19:30. You can sign up via Eventbrite.

WriteFest 2018


text which reads "writefest"

What is WriteFest?

November is Academic Writing Month (#AcWriMo), an academic write-a-thon that happens every year, inspired by NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) but catering to the specific needs of academic writers. It’s hosted by PhD2Published, as an online space where the global academic community can pledge their writing projects, record progress, and share thousands of writing tips via the #AcWriMo hashtag on Twitter.

WriteFest (#AcWriFest18) is our local University of Bristol contribution, and will bring together academics and researchers from across the university to recognise and celebrate writing. Drawing on the format of the very popular academic writing retreatsWriteFest 2018 has some added workshops, a guide to crafting your own ideal writing soundtrack, a creative writing element, and lots of curated articles about academic writing. We encourage all academics, research staff, and research students to join us and write. 

WriteFest started at Sheffield University. This year, there are 11 partner universities contributing to the festival! ExeterBristolManchester, Kings College London, Keele, Sheffield Hallam, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Derby, and Adelaide! 


What is the University of Bristol doing for WriteFest 2018?

The Bristol Doctoral College Blog will be posting information and articles throughout the month to support you in all matters related to writing – and help you to take a break from writing!

Alongside Bristol Clear, who support Research Staff at the University, we have organised the following workshops and writing retreats. All BDC-run activities are free for postgraduate researchers to attend, and all Bristol Clear-run activities are free for academic and research staff to attend*. 

Look out for our upcoming blog posts and shared articles on social media throughout the month of November. 

All of our planned activities will take place in the PGR Hub, 1st Floor of Senate House, unless otherwise specified.

*Please note that all Bristol Clear offers are in italics. If you are an academic or research staff member, find out more about taking part on the Bristol Clear blog. 

Week 1 

  • Writers Retreat (in conjunction with a Bristol Clear Writing Day)– 1st November  

Week 2 

  • Bristol Clear: Writers’ Retreat – 5th November 
  • Thesis Bootcamp – 5th, 6th, 7th November 
  • Drop-in Writing Day, PGR Hub – 9th November

Week 3 

Week 4 

  • Bristol Clear: Regular Productive Academic Writing – 19th November 
  • Bristol Clear: How to Peer review research manuscripts for journals – 20th November 
  • Take a break: relaxation afternoon – 21st November
  • Drop-in Writing Day, PGR Hub – 23rd November

Week 5 

  • Drop-in Writing Day, PGR Hub – 27th November
  • Writers Retreat – 30th November

How else can I get involved?

The University of Bristol is aiming to write a collective total of 500,000 words* throughout the month, and you can help us to reach this ambitious target (and see our little chart change) by letting us know your word count!

You can share your tally every day, every week or at the end of the month — whatever works for you. To take part, just tell us your word count by using #AcWriFest18 and #BristolPGRs in your Twitter or Instagram post. You can also send us an email, contact us using Facebook Messenger or post a comment on this very blog.

*Our original target of 100,000 words was jettisoned after some outstanding word counts in week one. So the Bristol bar has been raised…

Meet your PGR Faculty Representatives

Your PGR Faculty Reps are elected student representatives who represent all the students in their faculty to the university.  There are three reps per faculty, one for each level of study: Undergraduate, Postgraduate Taught, and Postgraduate Research. They play a vital role in supporting, consulting with, and building a community amongst their course reps. Each rep chairs their own Faculty Student Staff Liaison Committee (FSSLC), spaces where students can air any faculty level academic issues with university staff and find solutions to them.

They attend meetings such as University Senate, the highest committee in the university, ensuring students’ views on educational issues are being heard.

Moreover, they’re a valuable voice in the Bristol SU democratic structures, sitting on Bristol SU Standing Committee, and being voting members of Student Council. Faculty reps make sure that SU policies and campaigns take into account the needs of students in thier faculty. They also work with the SU’s Full-time Education Officers by sitting on the Education Network committee, to improve students’ academic experience, and make sure that SU policies and campaigns take into account the needs of students in their faculty.

Meet your elected Postgraduate Research Faculty Representatives below!

William Hamilton, Faculty of Arts

My goals for the upcoming year will be to make progress in areas with recurring problems, not least work space, and balancing research with extracurricular projects. I want to grow our postgraduate research communities by supporting pre-existing networks, as well as facilitating the creation of new events and communication channels.

 

Joshua Mudie, Faculty of Engineering

I am hoping to work with the PGR Course reps to improve the welcome that new postgraduate researchers receive when joining the Faculty, and also making sure that every department and Centre for Doctoral Training has their own course rep who is linked into the Faculty network of course reps to make it easier for us to help each other and improve the quality of doing an Engineering PhD.

Edmund Moody, Faculty of Life Sciences

I want to focus on increasing mental health awareness for postgraduate research students and integration between all schools in the life sciences faculty. 

Chris Brasnett, Faculty of Science

My main priorities for the year ahead are to work on promoting representation of Science postgraduate researchers at all levels across the faculty, and developing training opportunities for doctoral teachers.

Shubham Singh, Postgraduate Education Officer

I want to ensure that there are efficient support-structures in place to enhance the well-being of postgraduate researchers.

 

Please note that Jessica Naylor, PGR Faculty rep for Health Sciences, and Jafia Naftali Camara, PGR Faculty rep for Social Sciences and Law, will be updated once they officially take post early in the academic year 2018-19. Please email Caitlin Flint, the Bristol SU Representation Co-ordinator, if you would like to get in touch with either of these reps.

If you would like to get in touch with any of your reps, you can email them directly.

Find out more about the various Bristol SU Networks, including the Education and the PG Networks, on their website.

Help us name your new PGR space

A banner collage of images, including two research students working together at a desk, a close up of a cup of tea held in someone's hands, and some laptops.We’re excited to announce the opening of a new space this October that is dedicated solely to the postgraduate research community. This new physical space in the refurbished Senate House (as part of the Campus Heart project) will offer a programme of events and activities designed to support, develop and connect our 3,000-strong body of postgraduate researchers, regardless of your faculty, funding, part-time or distance learner status.

Acting as a hub for all research students, this new space will offer:

  • Personal and professional development training
  • Bookable spaces for small research groups and cross-disciplinary meet-ups
  • Social activities
  • A quiet space to escape from the hubbub of campus life
  • Wellbeing support and resources

And more – we’d love to hear your suggestions about how we can make this valuable for you.

#MakeThisYours

The new PGR hub is a space dedicated to you and informed by you. Have your say and tell us how we can #MakeThisYours.

We invite you to #MakeThisYours before the space even opens by submitting a possible name for our new hub. Are there any famous research alumni who have inspired your journey? Could Hub-McHubFace be a serious contender? Send us your suggestions on social media or via email, and you’ll be entered into a random prize draw for one of two £25 Amazon vouchers!

We’ll put our favourite submissions to the vote in our next BDC Bulletin, due to land in inboxes September 14th.