Meet the Scientist - Margaret McDowell

Date published: 19 January 2018

Area of Expertise:

This month Margaret McDowell – Grassland and Plant Sciences Branch talks about her role in AFBI

I have been working in AFBI’s Grassland and Plant Sciences Branch (formerly Agricultural Zoology) for over 33 years. My first post was at the Plant Nematology station at Felden, Newtownabbey, where I was involved in testing soils for potato cyst nematodes as part of the Northern Ireland Seed Potato certification scheme, before moving to Newforge Lane where I joined the Plant Pathology section.

Following incidents of severe nematode damage on golf courses, football and rugby pitches all over Europe, I have been involved in developing the AFBI turfgrass nematode diagnostic service.

I am now a Support Grade Band 2 (SGB2) scientist responsible for sample receipt, nematode extractions and microscope identification of plant parasitic nematodes from most of the Premiership football clubs in England and from golf courses as far away as Singapore. In the course of my work I’ve been fortunate to visit some great sporting venues around the British Isles.  The varied work makes my role both interesting and enjoyable.

Interesting facts about Margaret McDowell:

What is your favourite TV/radio show?
Stranger Things on Netflix (totally hooked) and The Archers on the radio (I’ve been listening for too many years).

Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
David Bowie – One of the greatest musical talents of our generation and he could keep me entertained with stories from the music industry.

If you were stuck on a desert island and you could bring along 3 people – Who would you bring?
My 3 children, Ryan, Allen and Sarah (as long as they didn’t fight!)

Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and what is its name?
Ingo and Rudi, my miniature Schnauzers whom I love to bits.

What is your favourite team/sport you support?
The Belfast Giants (no grass involved!)

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