‘pumpkin seed sprout’ (Garza, 2011).

Our Library Student Ambassadors have mostly finished their projects for this year, though we have one ongoing project and we’ll update on that later in the semester. In the meantime, here’s some insights from our fourth ambassador on her experiences as an international Masters’ student studying in the Faculty of Biosciences.


Hi there, my name is Ayomide Mary Olukorede and I have just rounded off my master’s program in Plant Science and Biotechnology. I was interested in studying this course because I desire to contribute to addressing global challenges relating to disease control, food insecurity, malnutrition and education through research aimed at sustainability in these areas. As a young student growing up in Nigeria, I saw first-hand how exotic plant diseases impacted urban and rural communities. I had several interactions with kids who had to fend for themselves on the streets instead of going to school, a situation arising because of family finances reliant on subsistence farming, so when a lack of affordable chemical control meant crop pests and diseases reduced crop yields, this resulted in severe economic hardship. Sadly, this situation is mirrored in even more critical issues such as food insecurity and malnutrition in Africa and beyond. In my opinion, this calls for collaborative and innovative methods of tackling problems.

Prior to my study at Leeds, I graduated with a First class honours B.Sc. degree in Microbiology from Lead City University, Nigeria and had basic training in laboratory procedures related to research studies on malaria, cancer, medical microbiology and genetics through internships at different laboratories in Nigeria. Therefore, for my research project at Leeds, I wanted to approach Plant Science from both a microbiologist and molecular biologist perspective and to determine how mechanistically, mutualistic interactions between plant roots and beneficial soil-borne microbes affect cell to cell signalling and plant growth. In the end, I successfully developed a novel area of research in the Benitez lab which could open opportunities to improve nutrient uptake and crop improvement. 

Studying at the University of Leeds have been a very fulfilling and exciting experience. It has been absolutely beyond how I imagined it was going to be. I have had the opportunity to learn from different experts in the field and interact with a very diverse community of students. The university and the lecturers have done a great job in designing the course delivery in such a way that I have been able to learn many skills that have equipped me to thrive in any academic and scientific community anywhere in the world going forward.

Aside from the academic excellence, the multicultural diversity and beautiful architectural designs of the massive buildings that characterise the university are so fascinating for me as an international student. Ever since the lockdown was relieved, I have been able to experience campus life and also access some of the state-of-the-art facilities available. I particularly love to study at the Edward Boyle library, and whenever I need a break, I just take a few minutes to walk towards my faculty (Biological sciences), sip some coffee and be entertained by colourful fish in the fish pond close to the Miall Building. Sometimes, my coursemates and I also love to hang out at the Terrace inside the Leeds Union and it feels so good to have friends from different countries, with different cultures and ideas.

Furthermore, I love the fact that the course workload, even though intense, has taught me how to manage my time efficiently and keep an adequate work-life balance. I still have the opportunity to engage in social activities that I like such as going to the gym, singing in a local church choir and travelling to visit new cities without affecting my studies negatively. I have also served as a student ambassador at Leeds, and in this role, I have been working on a Peer-Assisted-learning (PAL) scheme with the Library Department to help student-leaders share ideas and learn across various schemes and schools. All of this extra-curricular activity has helped me to remain motivated and refreshed throughout the period of my study.


Garza, M. pumpkin seed sprout. [Online]. [Accessed 25 January 2022]. Available from: http://www.flickr.com