Lincoln University’s Master of Science student, Andrew Pugh, has been awarded a Hicks Scholarship for 2012 of $15,000. The Hicks Scholarships, established in 2011 by Guardian Trust, are part of the Hicks Trust’s wider objectives of promoting all forms of farming in New Zealand, by assisting students to undertake relevant research.
Already having completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Bioprotection and Biosecurity, and a postgraduate diploma, Andrew is now undertaking a Master of Science degree by thesis only at the Bio-Protection Research Centre at Lincoln University.
Andrew’s research is investigating the ladybird, Cleobora mellyi (sometimes called the southern ladybird) as a biological control agent for the invasive tomato-potato psyllid. The psyllid, a tiny sap-sucking insect, causes damage to plants through feeding on leaves and transmitting a bacterial pathogen.
The insect is having a major detrimental effect on the potato industry in New Zealand and is estimated to have cost the industry $120 million since its detection in 2006. It is also negatively impacting the tomato, capsicum, eggplant and tamarillo industries.
“I want to provide an alternative to potato growers other than relying on insecticides to control this pest as they currently do. Organic growers in particular have been hit hard with this pest. My research will provide important insight of this ladybird’s potential in managing and controlling the tomato-potato psyllid” says Andrew Pugh.
Eileen Slater, Client Manager with Guardian Trust, who manages the Hicks Trust says “the Trust’s wish is to foster better understanding of the methods involved in the future development and improvement of agriculture, horticulture, arboriculture, viticulture, animal husbandry, and other systems of farming. These scholarships assist students to undertake relevant research that will benefit New Zealand’s primary industry.”
Andrew is “a little overwhelmed” with receiving the Hicks Scholarship. “I am extremely thankful to the Hicks Trust for selecting me. It is fantastic that the Trust is supporting researchers who are at the beginning of their careers, in such a critical area of research with agriculture and horticulture forming a large part of the New Zealand economy.”