Martino Schillaci in interview: discussing his research and experiences as a Joint-PhD Candidate in the JUMPA program

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6 Aug 2019

picture of Martino Schillaci

Martino Schillaci, the first student who enrolled in the JUMPA program, discusses his research and experiences as a joint-PhD candidate with Jessica Piesse, Coordinator of the program in a special interview.

Click here for the full interview and listen to Martino discussing the application of his research on sustaining agricultural crops that represent major global food sources, the challenges and benefits of undertaking a Joint-PhD and how playing the guitar and focusing on making friends has helped him to settle down in new environments. Graduate Research students should make as “many connections as possible,” says Martino. “Not only from a research point of view… but from a human point of view…it’s really important to spend time with people…because there cannot be only work and only research in life.”

Martino is currently completing his thesis under joint supervision at the University of Melbourne and the Forschungszentrum Jülich and is in his second year. His research is focused on the impact of beneficial microbes on the development of root architecture and metabolism of the model grass plant, Brachypodium distachyon, when it is grown under sub-optimal temperatures. The Brachypodium is particularly similar to the major global food sources: rice, barley and corn. His research may be applied to understand how to improve the sustainability of these crops that are now growing in environments that are becoming sub-optimal due to changes in global temperature. “Climate change,” says Martino, “is affecting agriculture in all areas of the world. We think that this question, how to still get sufficient food for everyone, will become more and more important in future.”

Martino was awarded the first JUMPA scholarship in 2017 and has now completed the second year of his PhD. He spent 16 months in Jülich collecting a wealth of data on root phenotyping of his experimental plant treated with microbes, nutrients and temperature stress and is currently at The University of Melbourne. Click here to see his full bio.

Martino is supervised by Prof. Ute Roessner at The University of Melbourne and Prof. Penelope Smith at Latrobe University in Australia, and Prof. Michelle Watt and Dr Borjana Arsova at Forschungszentrum Jülich in Germany.

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