We recently completed our training at Syngenta !
8 ERS went to Syngenta Jealott’s Hill (UK) to receive an intense three weeks course in risk assessment of herbicides added a bit of communication training and a lot of enthusiasm from both sides. During this time, we learned from their best risk assessors, how to deal with environmental risk assessment of pesticides (ERA) in the Product Safety department.
“I’ve felt I’ve developed professionally and personally due to the training and the tasks we were challenged with, such as pitch talks and ideas development. I only wish it could have lasted longer” – Martina, ESR
The first week focused on Syngenta themselves; where we were shown around the ground, being introduced to the formulation lab, the greenhouses, and even the rain tower! We saw the different complications that come with formulating a pesticide, from potential active ingredients to finished products. This also included a demo and explanation of examples on drift reduction technologies, to reduce unwanted drifting to off-field areas.
A few of us are working with pesticides as our active chemical stressor and this albeit brief introduction gave some very insightful knowledge. The world is never black and white and neither is the pesticide industry.
See a short demonstration of the rain tower below! ⇓
Second week was in-depth on herbicide risk assessment. Herbicides are active compounds and can impact plant species that are not the intended target of application. It is hence extremely important that we try to estimate the potential effects so mitigation strategies can be set in place to hopefully minimize the risk. The second week was all about buffer zones, surrounding fields and precision technology, such as drones and nozzles.
“It was an intense experience, with an exponential learning curve and great insights from different experts!” – Sofie, ESR
Last week at Syngenta we learned how to advance our communication skills. We got to help out with the online tool: ”Virtual World”, which is a self-developed tool by Syngenta to connect with customers. In addition, we had Anna Ploszajski coming in to tell us how storytelling can be used to effectively communicate science. We prepared presentations and infographics with (for some of us) all new but very useful online tools, all with the intention of improving our own science communication.
“[it] was a crucial experience for our PhDs and future careers. It altered our perception and understanding of how risk assessment is performed and how it can be improved in a way that academia alone could not have taught us.” – Jacqueline, ESR
Each week we were challenged with pitch presentations. We got to present our own projects and ideas, both oral and in a poster session with the whole department. In the second week, we dug deeper into the world of ERA, each preparing a presentation on some of Syngenta’s own herbicides. And Lastly, in groups we came up with new ideas for the Syngenta virtual world, using all the new skills we now possess in communication. Looking back over the three pitches, it became clear that we all advanced over the course. Now we are communication experts and are ready to further spread awareness over our fields in every new opportunity we get.
Martina and Sofie presenting their view on the Syngenta Virtual World
The three weeks came to an end and we gathered together at a real British pub and had a final meal together, inviting all involved in the course. Our very own Roman Ashauer joined in to celebrate as well.
A big thank you to everyone involved in organizing this great program! And Special thanks to Laura, Heidi and Jo !