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Where a CONNECTED training grant can take you

John Oladokun#

My experience at Texas A&M AgriLife Centre…

As an enthusiastic and energetic early career researcher (ECR) looking for a group to discuss, share, learn and expand my professional network, I recently applied for a £3000 training voucher, following the call-out to CONNECTED network members in 2021, and my application was successful.

It allowed me to undergo one month of training on the use of high throughput sequencing (HTS) for routine plant virus and virus-like diseases diagnosis at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Centre in the USA, under Dr. Olufemi Alabi (Associate Professor and Plant Virologist). My trip took place in October 2021.

During my visit, my training focused on:

  • Fundamentals of HTS as a diagnostic tool
  • Bioinformatics analysis of the data generated from HTS and interpretation for effective scientific reporting
  • Cloning, other assays and detection methods to support HTS results
  • Visit to grower’s fields and international border control agencies such as the USDA for regular disease surveillance

The training improved my diagnostics and detection skills, increased my connections with scientists working in the same field (and outside my field), and opened an opportunity to collaborate in the present and future research of the Texas A&M AgriLife research center.

Texas A &M AgriLife Extension Centre diagnostic lab

Members of Texas A &M AgriLife Extension Centre diagnostic lab. From (L-R) Mr. Ashrafou Ouro-Djobo (Ph.D. student), Ms. Cecilia Gomez (Lab Manager), Dr. Olufemi Alabi (Host), Ms. Tofunmi Ijila (M.Sc student), and John Oladokun.

Knowledge sharing

Above all, what I have learned will be greatly useful for students and colleagues in my current departments. As a way of knowledge sharing, an in-house online session has been put in place to share experience and teach colleagues and students in my department.  Also, having undergone training on how to run a plant health clinic, my knowledge will help in contributing effectively to the newly inaugurated “plant disease clinic” of my department in diagnosing samples received from growers. I shall continue to use my social media network to share and transfer useful information gained to the general public.

John Oladokun on a networking visit to the Texas A & M University Kingsville Citrus Centre. With him is the Interim Center Director, Prof. Mamoudou Setamou. Photo credit: Dr. Olufemi Alabi

Finally, my appreciation goes to the funding agency of the CONNECTED network, and the team for this great opportunity. Many thanks to my host and his family, my lab colleagues during my training at Weslaco, authorities of Texas A & M University for their permission to utilise the Centre facilities. I also thank all those I encountered daily during the training for their warm hospitality, support, and guidance throughout my stay.


by John Oladokun (Ph.D)

Department of Plant Pathology

Assam Agricultural University,

Jorhat-13, India.