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UA President highlights new honorary member Nicholas Talbot's research commitment to serve humanity

Special awards for undergraduate, Master’s and PhD degrees were the main focus of our traditional Saint Thomas Aquinas celebrations at the University of Alicante Auditorium

 

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Alicante. 26 January 2018

The University of Alicante Auditorium hosted its traditional ceremony to mark Saint Thomas Aquinas celebrations, which has been held since 1880. The ceremony also served to reward the most outstanding students who completed their undergraduate, Master’s and PhD degrees, who were presented with their Special awards, by UA President Manuel Palomar.

Palomar congratulated all last year’s graduates by saying "you represent the hope of universities to access scientific and critical knowledge in all the scopes of human knowledge". He also recalled to them that "the studies that you have completed with great effort have qualified you as professionals and enriched you as human beings and it is a great satisfaction to be shared with your families for whom, I am sure, have also meant sacrifices ".

A total of 159 special awards were presented, corresponding to University of Alicante students of undergraduate, Master’s and PhD degrees from several faculties.

The same ceremony served for our university to recognise the work, commitment and career of Dr. Nicholas Talbot by conferring him a University of Alicante’s honorary degree.

The UA President highlighted the contributions of the new honorary member in the academic, scientific, research and social spheres, emphasising his studies on the disease of rice burning, "whose results allow us to fight against this world threat to food security". He also referred to Professor Talbot's commitment to "the training of research personnel in countries with scarce resources and his determined decision in favour of European cohesion".

The new honoris causa doctor felt honoured by this recognition and expressed his gratefulness and before the audience in the auditorium. He started by highlighting his Europeanism "I believe everyone in Europe shares a common fate, based on friendship, cooperation and free exchange of ideas" and thanking his sponsor PhD Luis Vicente López Llorca, for his laudatio kind words.

But what he truly focused on was his research interests, related to the most devastating disease of rice worldwide, “rice blast", caused by a fungus called Magnaporthe oryzae, which "destroys up to 30 percent of the world rice harvest". This is why he did not hesitate to call it "a significant threat to world food security".

Talbot explained his “motivation to study the rice blast is to understand how plant diseases work at the molecular level, to be able to design totally new strategies in order to control the most devastating diseases affecting world agriculture". Although he pointed out that the problems generated by the disease "are serious and urgent, so we also have to work, where possible, on strategies for immediate control." This is the reason why he will be soon working at The Sainsbury Laboratory, focusing on these goals and “trying to make a difference in the world”, he stated in his speech.

PhD Luis Vicente López Llorca was responsible for the laudatio of the – still at that moment – candidate to the honorary degree proposed by the Faculty of Science, Nicholas Talbot. A speech in which he reviewed Talbot’s professional career as a microbiologist and professor of Molecular Genetics. British with Valencian roots since his mother was born in the Valencia’s Cabanyal neighborhood and grew up in the Malva-rosa". López Llorca highlighted Talbot’s research work and, specifically, his "contribution to the knowledge of the most important rice-related disease". He also pointed out his virtue in research cooperation, an area in which he has supported researchers from rice-growing countries, with scarce resources, by training them in his laboratory. And he ended by recalling the nominee’s "determined Europeanism" and his collaboration with and support to the University of Alicante, which "he has visited several times and where he has supervised a good number of research works of our phytopathology group".

 

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