29 April 2021

LIC developing the next generation of agricultural academics

LIC is seeking expressions of interest for a PhD opportunity.

Chad Harland completed his PhD in animal genomics in Belgium before bringing his wealth of knowledge back to LIC in Hamilton.

We’re committed to educating and upskilling the next generation of leaders in the agricultural industry. One of the ways we do this is through our PhD programme, which helps fund staff members post-graduate degree studies.

Our PhD programme began in 2010. Since then we’ve funded four staff members’ PhD’s through the programme.

LIC Lab staff

One of the biggest champions of this programme is LIC Molecular Genetics Scientist, Chad Harland. Chad started at LIC in 2008 as a laboratory technician.

Chad was sponsored by LIC to undertake a PhD in animal genomics. This involved five years working on his PhD in Belgium and returning yearly to New Zealand to share his knowledge. Chad has now returned permanently and is working within LIC’s Research and Development team where he is utilising his studies.

“While I was picking stuff up fairly quickly, it was useful to have a chance to get a formal qualification and go into depth. When the PhD opportunity came along, it was a chance to take something that was potentially relevant to the company and dive into it as deep as possible and do so with one of the world leaders in the field.”

Chad says the PhD was great for several reasons. “For one, I had full funding to do a PhD on a topic that was interesting, supported by the company and so there was not really any worries about funding and there was no worries about having a job. It was a really nice set up, I knew there was a job waiting for me”.

For Chad, coming back into a research position that is flexible and focuses on areas he is interested in is very important. This includes returning and seeing his research and work in practice, having direct and measurable impact on people and on the business and the dairy industry. The new genotyping and sequencing platforms for the LIC’s Genemark have been what Chad has spent most of the last year working on.

Microscope image

We’re currently seeking expressions of interest for a PhD opportunity available to those who have completed honours or masters degrees and are skilled in genetics and computer science with a background in quantitative, population or statistical genetics.

The successful applicant will be offered a three-year scholarship by LIC and Massey University, focusing on the identification and spread of de novo and high impact rare variants in New Zealand dairy cattle.

Other ways we support the education and development of agricultural professionals include:

  • Rural Leaders partner

Rural Leaders runs the Nuffield Farming Scholarship and Kellogg Rural Leadership programmes. Both these programmes look to increase leadership capability that enables New Zealand’s rural communities to flourish.

  • Research scholarships

We offer three scholarship programmes to students studying agriculture or science and have an interest in genetics or machine learning. The Livestock Improvement Doctoral Studentship Programme, The Patrick Shannon Scholarship and The Brian Aspin scholarship. You can find out more about these scholarships and how to apply here.

  • Career days

We host the Year 13 Science Career Days alongside DairyNZ, University of Waikato and Ag Research, which encourages students to consider where a career in science can take them. Agricultural and Horticulture classes from schools such as St Paul’s Collegiate are also hosted at our Newstead campus and LIC sponsors an award and assists with judging for the Waikato Science Fair.