SciSoc Spotlight Issue 12 – Nick Taylor

7 December 2020. Nick Taylor is with the Department of Plant Sciences. A PDF version of this Issue is available here.

Research focus: Mathematical epidemiology (studying crop disease)

I’m currently working on a project about evolution pathogen resistance to disease treatments. Generally, we control crop disease using disease-resistant cultivars and fungicide (chemical) treatments. I use modelling to try to understand how the choice of disease control affects the rate at which pathogens evolve resistance to the choice of control.

What made you decide to pursue research?

I wasn’t really expecting to go into research when I was starting my undergraduate degree. However, once I got into 3rd and 4th years I elected to do research projects in place of yet more exams. I really enjoyed the projects and it made me realise how interesting and rewarding research can be. I really enjoy being able to apply the skills I developed in my undergraduate degree to new problems.

What would be your advice to aspiring researchers?

If you get the chance to do a research project in your degree (or as a summer project), go for it. It will be the best way to establish whether you might enjoy that style of work. Also, it doesn’t necessarily commit you to a life of academia – you can always do a PhD and then move away from it. If you enjoy your subject then definitely consider it before getting trapped on the inevitable conveyor belt into London to do consultancy or finance!

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