BARIToNE May Summer School 2024

During the second week in May (w/c 13/05/24), the first and second cohort of BARIToNE students took part in the first annual BARIToNE Summer School, hosted across the James Hutton Institute and University of Dundee (UoD). This summer school is a week including training, site visits and the opportunity for students to present their work at the wider BARIToNE Consortium.

David Ashworth (CMS)

The first day of the summer school began with the student led day of training. Activities had been organised by the second-year students, intending to familiarise the first-year students with what capabilities the Hutton has, and to introduce them to techniques which may be useful in their projects. In the morning, we learned about the use of aerial imaging techniques for field trial analysis with a presentation from Damian Bienkowski. This was followed by a demonstration of the Hutton’s imaging robot by Dominic Williams, in which we had chance to remotely pilot the robot for ourselves. Rounding out the morning, Dominic led an interactive session on how machine learning can be used to identify different components of images.

In the afternoon, we took part in two practical sessions. The first was organised by Laurence Ducreux, Jimmy Dessoly and Nicola Bonar from the Hutton’s Biotechnology facility, where we were talked through the process of gene editing, then had practise extracting immature barley embryos and transferring barley calluses to media. The second session explained how to cross barley, presented by Ruth Hamilton, where we had a go at emasculation of pre-anthesis barley and pollen collection. The second day started with the culmination of the 4-week entrepreneurship project we had been undertaking. BARIToNE Industry partner Chivas had set us the challenge of launching a flavoured whisky drink aimed at enticing non-whisky drinkers, including training on how to develop a business proposal delivered by the UoD’s Centre for Entrepreneurship. The board of judges comprised of Christopher Smyth, Head of Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Programmes at the UoD, David High, the BARIToNE Programme Manager, and Stefan Masson, New Product Development, Innovation & Distilleries Support Manager for Chivas Brothers. Four teams pitched their ideas, with the team of Paulina Aboyadana, Emily Lyon and David Ashworth winning best presentation (and a bottle of Chivas Mizunara!), and ‘The Whisky Wizards’ consisting of Shanzay Qamar, James Grieves, Kira Lutter and Happison Chikova winning best overall pitch, and a £250 cash prize.

BARIToNE students Nigel and Happison inspecting the imaging robot.
‘The Whisky Wizards’ with Christopher (left) and Stefan (right).

In the afternoon, the first-year students received training on intellectual property from Fiona Mitchell, UoD’s Technology Transfer Manager, followed by a Knowledge Exchange session where they reviewed seminars from the ongoing International Barley Hub seminar series and considered what makes a high quality seminar. The second-year students were given information on how to get the most out of their industrial placements, with Rory McLeod, a previous PhD student, describing his experience on the placement he did and how he could have made it better. This was followed by a Knowledge Exchange session on the data analysis skills we had participated in over the first eighteen months, and a talk from Sebastian Raubach and Paul Shaw of the Hutton, on the phenotyping app Gridscore and the database Germinate, both of which they had developed.

Wednesday was the BARIToNE Consortium Meeting, where there were keynote talks from Heather Gardner from the British Beer and Pub Association on what the BBPA are doing to advance the sector’s commitments to green brewing, and Morris Altman from the UoD on the economics of ‘green’ farming and its potential adoption by the wider farming industry. The meeting also included talks from the first-year students on the progress of their projects, and the second-year students presented their results to date with posters.

Thursday was the first of two days of site visits, with the first visit to Arbikie Farm and Distillery near Montrose in the morning, followed by Bairds Malt in the afternoon. At Arbikie, we were told about how they are trying to make distilling sustainable, though using renewable energy and their intercropping system of cereals and peas (which they then distil into their climate positive Nadar gin and vodka!). We were also shown around their distillery, where they compared the pot stills used in whisky production with the column stills used for gin and vodka.

BARIToNE PhD student Cohorts 1 and 2 outside Arbikie Distillery.

Overall, we enjoyed the week packed with training, talks and visits. We would like to thank David High and the other members of the BARIToNE team for putting together this event.

David Ashworth

After lunch, we went to the Bairds Malt Maltings in Arbroath. After a quick site overview, we were taken on a tour following the journey grain takes upon entering the malthouse, from drying through steeping, germination and finally kilning (where we were taken into the sweltering 55C kiln). The day finished with a talk from Graham Manson about how Bairds is working to be more sustainable.

The first stop on Friday was the St Andrews University Eden Campus. We were taken around the campus and shown the facilities, including its biomass boiler that’s used to heat students flats in St Andrews, its solar farm, rapid prototyping lab, fuel cell lab and finally their part of the St Andrews Forest, where they are experimenting the density of tree planting. From there, we went to the field sites of Scottish Agronomy, where we were shown the wheat sown following a mix of cover crop, as the second year of a three-year cover crop trial.

The students at the Scottish Agronomy field site.

Overall, we enjoyed the week packed with training, talks and visits. We would like to thank David High and the other members of the BARIToNE team for putting together this event, as well as all those who delievered training sessions and hosted us across the week – we look forward to next year’s!