Fellowship experience - R. Mahender Kumar

Fellowship report by R. Mahender Kumar

I was warmly welcomed on 23rd April evening at Edinburgh by my hosts Mr. Alan and Mrs. Jan. The weather was comfortable with a drizzle and then with a breeze. I was made comfortable to stay in my Edinburgh home. I got all the information from hosts and requirements to start my work on 25th April 2018 at the University of Edinburgh.

The Greenery and the flowers

The weather was very comfortable with lots of greenery around, of course! The stretches of the cheerful daffodils are unforgettable across the city and in front of the every house.

My Edinburgh home (left) and the University of Edinburgh, my work place (right)

Training and exposure

The academic sessions were focused, informative, intense and scheduled to familiarise me with biochar work and related research programmes at the University of Edinburgh (Crew Building) with mentor Dr. Saran Sohi. Everyday there used to be discussion on the review of the work and planning for the next few days. The planning, execution and status were always discussed with other colleagues who were very co-operative.

I had access to the University Library for review of literature focussed on biochar related aspects, I visited the facilities of biochar production units, I did experiments on biochar in interaction with student working on biochar, attended the Postgraduate Research conference (2 days) and participated in an International Conference at Rothamstead (21-23 May 2018) on the future of long term experiments in agricultural science. The experience of attending conference and interaction with international colleagues was exemplary. The interaction with other participants was very informative (Achim Doberman, Andy Macdonald, Stephan Hafaele and Kevin). The field visits and facilities as well as the storing of the materials made me very astonishing. I also gave a talk on the work carried out and got feedback for my future programmes.

1: The biochar unit; 2: The biochar manufacture; 3: Final seminar at Edinburgh on the progress of the Fellowship;
4: At the Rothamstead conference; 5: A biochar doctorate student; 6: 175 years of long term experiment at Rothamstead.

The places

Our mentors in the NEWS project let us experience the cities and the landscape of Scotland and the awesome historical buildings in Edinburgh and Glasgow. After an informal meeting with Prof. Mark Sutton, six of the NEWS fellows went for sightseeing in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The convergence of history and modernity was exemplary.

1: In the Madam Tussauds Museum; 2: At the London Bridge; 3: The London Tower;
4: Meeting with Prof. Mark Sutton; 5: At the Castle of Edinburgh.

The people

Through this fellowship I bonded with several amazing people in Scotland. I cherish the hospitality, warmth and support given by Dr. Saran Sohi, Alfy, Raffique, Alok and Pandya. The host family of Alan and Jan was exemplary in all the aspects of the stay. All weekends were utilised to see the places in and around Edinburgh (Edinburgh Zoo, Castle etc.,)

The sharing and the support of the six NEWS fellows Dr. Surekha, Dr. Neeraja, Dr. Anandan, Dr. Sangita at Aberdeen, and Dr. Dibyendu, Miss Amita and Mr. Aniket of Edinburgh were unforgettable and continued after return from UK. I also got an opportunity to visit a few historical places in London. Travelling the tube was an extraordinary experience.

The food

We had a taste of the warm hospitality and food made by Edinburgh – NEWS group on sharing basis with little bit of Indian and bread based items.

All in all, the fellowship was academically very useful, motivating me to pursue the objectives of my research by integrating biochar in my work plan and future research programs for enhancing the nitrogen use efficiency in the whole cropping rice based systems.

Overall, the experience was outstanding both professionally and personally.

R. Mahender Kumar

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