Covid-19: Click here for the latest Covid-19 information for the horticulture industry.

Industry connection a highlight for scholarship recipient

8 November 2021

Reuben Dods.

Reuben Dods is a first-year Master of Horticultural Science student at Massey University. He is researching the application of ultraviolet light recipes on plant gene expression with Agri-tech company BioLumic.

Reuben is the 2021 recipient of the Horticulture New Zealand Postgraduate Scholarship, receiving $10,000 and professional development opportunities.

Reuben first got excited about horticulture as a career while at Palmerston North Boys’ High School. He was shopping around the subjects offered and fell into horticulture. Reuben is now an advocate for others getting into the industry. 

“There’s a wealth of opportunity including options to travel and lots of exciting problems to explore,” says Reuben.

There’s something meaningful about being able to contribute to a core part of the New Zealand story – sustainable food and fibre production.

Reuben completed his Bachelor’s degree in Plant Science at Massey University in 2020. He enjoyed being part of the Massey Hort Society and travelling to South Korea on a Prime Minister’s Scholarship programme focused on horticulture opportunities for trade and knowledge exchange between the two countries.

The step into research for Reuben was natural. “I always enjoyed the nitty-gritty of doing science projects. Postgrad was never a definite but once I got involved with BioLumic and loved the team there, I agreed to take on this exciting project.”

The skills Reuben is developing are potentially vast. He hopes they will help him continue to create value for growers in the future.

“It’s the first time I’ve managed a large project so I’ve learned a lot about planning and project management. I also work as part of a team and so I’m gaining more appreciation for the benefits of everyone contributing. I’ve gained a lot of technical skills but perhaps most importantly, I’ve gained skills in communication. Science communication, both written and verbal, and the ability of scientists to communicate their research is vital.”   

Reuben says conducting his research project is equipping him with the skills to take on further projects.

“I am passionate about working on innovative projects for growers, whether it's making things easier or creating a better return on investment for them. With global demand increasing at the same time as having to manage reductions in chemistry options, it's cool to be involved with this technology. There’s huge potential – especially for the vegetable sector – to use ultraviolet light as an alternative to current chemistry options.”   


Reuben has five tips for those considering postgraduate study:

  1. Work on a project you are actually interested in.
  2. Find some funding – there’s lots out there.
  3. Get involved with a team that is welcoming and that will support you on your journey.
  4. Doing it with a company is cool as it’s real-world.
  5. Build industry connections to help line up your next steps.


HortNZ Postgraduate Scholarship

The HortNZ Postgraduate Scholarship was first awarded in 2020 to encourage research in horticulture. 

All scholarships also come with a range of industry networking and professional development opportunities. 

Applications for the 2022 postgraduate as well as undergraduate scholarships that HortNZ offers or administers are open until 10 December 2021.

For more information and to apply, click here.