Bequest Funds IBERS PhD Research Scholarships

Ilse SkujinaIn September 2014, two students at Aberystwyth University will begin their PhD studies in their chosen fields thanks to Owen Thomas Williams Price, the eldest son of a Breconshire farmer who made a significant contribution to the agricultural industry during his lifetime.

Born in 1924, Owen Price came to Aberystwyth University to study Agricultural Economics as he was convinced that it would improve and benefit the livelihood of farming communities like his own in Brecon.

Owen Price died in May 2012 and in his Will he bequeathed a sum of money to Aberystwyth University which is funding PhD research studentships at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS).

Ilse Skujina will study avian genomes and their link to longevity, work which has came about as a result of her MPhil project that has been looking at the genetics of the Red Kite in Wales.

Originally from Latvia, Ilse is no stranger to Aberystwyth having studied her undergraduate degree in Equine Science here.

Ilse said; “The Owen Price Scholarship has not only enabled me to pursue my chosen career pathway and opened the doors on a whole new level of opportunities that a PhD offers, but it has the potential to influence the global science community by increasing general understanding of ageing.

“It might even provide us with new tools to combat aging-related degenerative diseases.”

Rhys Jones will study the interactions between liver fluke, a major issue in ruminant health, and rumen fluke which is an emerging ruminant parasite.

Rhys said; “I am extremely grateful to be a recipient of the Owen Price scholarship.  I will be looking at how liver and rumen fluke compete to infect an intermediate host snail, as well as looking at correlations between rumen fluke and liver fluke levels in Welsh farms. The data will be used to do some modelling on future prevalence of these parasites.”

“I hope the work I undertake will result in findings that will contribute positively to Owen Price’s legacy.”

Both projects will build on Owen Price’s international vision of ensuring that the work he promoted during his lifetime will continue into the future to the benefit of agricultural communities around the world.

After graduating in 1946 with a BSc with honours in Agricultural Economics at Aberystwyth, Owen Price was awarded a Ministry of Agriculture research scholarship that enabled him to study at Lincoln College, Oxford and the University of Wisconsin.

At Oxford, he was awarded his DPhil and he then studied at the University of Wisconsin for a Masters in Land Economics. Returning to Oxford, he obtained a second Masters degree and spent three years lecturing in land economics at the Agricultural Economics Research Institute.

Some of the companies he worked for included the Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the World Bank) in Washington, and the World Bank’s office in Iran.

With his wealth of international experience, Owen always remained proud of his Welsh roots and he was noted by those who knew him for his kindness, his love of life and for his family.  When asked about what it meant to be Welsh, one memorable quote was, “being Welsh means that Wales is part of you, part of your heritage, and is always part of your life.”

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