Master’s student wins Lincoln Thr3sis competition

Howard London with Thr3sis Award

Master’s student Howard London has won Lincoln University’s Three-Minute Thesis (Thr3sis) competition, and will be representing Lincoln at the national finals in August at Victoria University, Wellington.

Howard’s talk, which covered his research on the tomato potato psyllid, was the top presentation in the Master’s category.

As Howard explained in his talk, “our fish (or chicken) and chips are at stake here”. The psyllid, as its name suggests, feeds mainly on tomatoes and potatoes, but also on other nightshade plants. As it feeds, the sap-sucking insect damages plants and spreads disease-causing bacteria. Potatoes infected by the psyllid’s bacteria, for example, become stripy and discoloured when they are cooked, and this ‘zebra chip’ effect prevents them from being sold. 

For his research, Howard is studying how plant type influences feeding of the psyllid and exploring whether a parasitic wasp (Tamarixia triozae) may be able to control its numbers.  

Lincoln’s 2017 Thr3sis event was well supported by Centre students with Michal Kuchár and Laura Nixon qualifying for the finals, and Andrei Costan, Sundar Tiwari, Khan Mir Khan and Ali Kakhki presenting in the heats.