This year the Colin Aiken Plant Breeding Bursary has been awarded to Duncan McLean. Duncan is an undergraduate from Massey University, currently in his 3rd year of a Bachelor of Science degree after which he intends to complete a masters degree in plant breeding. Duncan’s special area of interest during his undergraduate studies has been plant science.

The Colin Aiken Plant Breeding Bursary was established in 2015 to promote plant breeding as a career. It was set up in association with South Pacific Seed Sales (NZ) Ltd with funds provided by royalties from sales of the Super Kumi hybrid variety of kumi kumi in acknowledgement of Colin Aiken who produced the variety.

South Pacific Seeds are once again pleased to be able to award this bursary in conjunction with the Aiken family to a worthy recipient.

An excerpt from Duncan’s application essay:

New Zealand has a unique place in the plant breeding world where Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are rejected in favour of traditional selection methods. This has resulted in clever GMO-free marketing strategies, and turning a technological weakness into an economic strength. Subsequently, this has resulted in a huge advancement of molecular tools and other advanced technologies to maintain our grasp on the future. I believe that modern day breeders must have extensive knowledge of these technologies and I wish to achieve this knowledge in my area of study.

COLIN AIKEN PLANT BREEDING BURSARY My inspiration to become a plant breeder was fostered at an early age and encouraged at Massey University. My grandfather was a plant breeder for the Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO), he bred tomato seeds to help growers in West Africa withstand climatic change and increase agricultural commerce with a local tomato canning factory. After travelling through India and seeing the large scale arable crop production alongside the widespread food shortages, I understood how important plant breeding will be for the future not just for New Zealand but also developing countries which led me to start my degree in Plant Science. After starting study at Massey University in 2015 I have been inspired by various lecturers and teaching staff such as Dr Zulfi Jahufer and Dr Jennifer Tate with lectures on plant breeding and the importance of this technology in solving modern day agricultural issues.

In my area of study I intend to gain a high level of ability with molecular tools as I believe these are at the forefront for plant breeding in New Zealand. Subsequently, I wish to use this new knowledge to help the local farmers in New Zealand and in developing countries abroad to have access to more efficient crops to generate greater incomes and increase their community’s wellbeing. The Colin Aiken Plant Breeding Bursary scholarship will provide me with financial assistance to achieve these goals.


Colin Aiken

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