This month Dr Elaine Groom - Northern Ireland Contact Point (NICP) for Horizon 2020 Agri-Food & Bioeconomy talks about her role in AFBI.

I graduated from Queen’s University in 1987 with a degree in Botany and completed a PhD in microbiology in 1991.  I then spent five years as a postdoc in England before returning to Northern Ireland in 1996.  I contributed to the set up of the Applied Technology Unit in the industry-led QUESTOR Centre at Queen’s where I undertook contract research and consultancy in a broad range of environmental and technology areas.  I was acting General Manager of QUESTOR from 2006, overseeing European and international collaborations.

I joined AFBI in March 2015.  My role is principally to assist applicants from Northern Ireland seeking agri-food research funding from the EU's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.  I advise potential applicants on which funding instruments to target, provide assistance in finding partners and provide direct assistance to proposal development.  My position is funded by DAERA and I also work closely with the research policy team.

My day-to-day work is very varied depending on the time of year, since European funding runs on annual cycles.  At the moment the focus is on strategy and working with people to develop ideas and potential partnerships. It is very gratifying to help good ideas turn into strong proposals.

I am also part of several European networks and attend expert workshops for the European Commission.  I enjoy having a high level view of developments across a wide spectrum of activity in the agri-food sector, and seeing the vision of how it could develop. 

Interesting facts about Dr Elaine Groom

What is the last book you read?
I’m currently re-reading my way through the 20 books in the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian. I’m currently on Book 4 “The Mauritius Command”.  The Russell Crowe film (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, amalgamating storylines from several of the books) was well done, but the books far surpass the film.

Do you have a pet?
Not at the moment, sadly, having lost our cat after an operation last month.

What are your hobbies?
Wild swimming; walking; photography.

What unique fact do we not know about you?
I am named as a co-inventor on three patents, owned by ICI Seeds, British Nuclear Fuels and Queen’s University respectively. The last one is being developed as a full scale application.

What is the most exciting thing you have ever done?
Sampling microbes from the hot springs and mud geysers in Yellowstone National Park.

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