Raghuram Badmi, postdoc in Judith Lundberg-Felten’s group at UPSC, was granted a Career-Fit PLUS fellowship from Enterprise Ireland, an Irish governmental organisation that leads the national support network for Horizon Europe. The fellowship will be for three years and is oriented on experienced researchers to work on applied research projects. Raghuram Badmi will study how Botrytis cinerea, a fungus, causes fruit rot in strawberries. He will start his new position in autumn this year in Cork, Ireland.
What was motivating you to apply for this competitive fellowship and how did you choose your project?
Raghuram Badmi: One of the main attractive features of this Career-Fit Plus fellowship is that it is designed for researchers who want to transition into industry as a ‘Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow’ as well as a ‘Career-FIT PLUS Fellow’. I realized that my skill set could be valuable in developing solutions to agricultural problems and this fellowship provided me with the right platform to act as a bridge between the academic university and the company partners. My previous work on strawberry-Botrytis interactions left me with quite a few exciting questions to pursue. I chose the most exciting and most pressing problems that the agricultural sector is currently facing and proposed to solve them by employing advanced techniques such as non-transgenic (footprint-free/DNA-free) genome editing.
With whom will you work in your future project and what do you plan to do?
Raghuram Badmi: The project involves three partners, an academic university partner, the University College Cork, a company partner, Plantedit, and a Technology Center, Shannon ABC, all based in Ireland. The main goal of this project is to develop non-transgenic genome edited strawberry plants that have higher resistance against grey mould disease caused by Botrytis cinerea fungus. The project involves interdisciplinary computational approaches to better understand the strawberry-Botrytis interactions and I also plan to employ some beneficial microbial interactions to improve disease resistance, strawberry growth and yield.
Do you think your experiences from your current research project in Judith Lundberg-Felten’s group will benefit your future project?
Raghuram Badmi: Yes of course, I plan to use my experience in working with mycorrhizal fungus to develop bioinoculant based solutions to improve strawberry growth and disease resistance. In this respect, I wish to continue my association with UPSC by collaborating with my supervisor Judith Lundberg-Felten, whose support and recommendation was crucial in obtaining this fellowship.
Which were the biggest challenges writing your proposal?
Raghuram Badmi: This proposal is the result of at least four years of continuous grant applications and the rejections that followed. I got to learn a lot on how to develop a project that perfectly fits my expertise, develop compelling arguments, and present myself as the perfect fit for the project. I would like to thank my previous supervisors at the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, whose guidance on proposal writing was invaluable in developing this proposal.
Do you have some tips for other postdocs or PhD students applying for similar fellowships that are funded by the European Union?
Raghuram Badmi: My suggestions to my younger self would be to identify a specific niche area and develop oneself around it. Writing is hard, and the earlier you start the better. Proposal/grant writing training programs such as for Marie Curie Individual Fellowships, Young Research Talent grants, ERC grants have benefitted me a lot and this could be helpful to many others wanting to apply for fellowships.
Career-FIT PLUS programme is launched by Enterprise Ireland and is aimed for experienced researchers from all over the world to work on research projects that are of interest for Irish enterprises. The fellows will work three years in Ireland hosted by a Third Level Institution, like e.g., a university, that is associated with a Technology Centre/Gateway. During this time, they will have the opportunity to spend a six to twelve months long secondment in a partner company.
The Career-FIT PLUS fellowship programme has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 847402.
For more information, please contact:
Umeå Plant Science Centre
Department of Forest Genetics and Plant Physiology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Text: Raghuram Badmi and Anne Honsel