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Susan McCallum Blueberry Researcher

Photograph of Susan McCallum
Work on your communication skills not just your science skills

Blueberries are a common sight on supermarket shelves in Scotland but most of these have been grown thousands of miles away and flown to the UK meaning they are not as fresh as they might be if grown locally.

Dr Susan McCallum of The James Hutton Institute is working on a project that could be set to change that and help more British farmers grow blueberries and tap into the burgeoning demand.

The Horticultural LINK project is looking at the establishment, seasonality and machine harvestability of 40 different blueberry varieties in five UK locations. Fruit quality composition (size, colour, pH, juice content and sensory characteristics) are being examined so that those with the most appropriate qualities can be identified for the UK market.

The project aims to link phenotype to genotype to create a genetic framework for future crop improvement using marker assisted breeding which should greatly increase the speed and precision of blueberry breeding. It is in collaboration with the Specialty Crop Research Initiative-funded project with partners based across America.

Before taking up her current position Susan had already been at the institute for several years working first as a research assistant then completing her PhD.

After obtaining a first class Honours BSc in Medical Biotechnology from the University of Abertay in 2005 she worked for one year as a Research Assistant at SCRI on an EU project: ‘Single nucleotide polymorphisms for study of biodiversity of climate adaptation in trees’.

She then embarked upon her PhD in Plant Genetics with the project: ‘Marker assisted breeding for sensory characteristics in red raspberry (Rubus idaeus)’.

Susan’s top tips for getting ahead in science are:

  • Do a summer project if you get the chance while at school or university.
  • Keep an open mind – don’t narrow your options too early on.
  • Work on your communication skills not just your science skills.

Printed from /staff/profiles/susan-mccallum-blueberry-researcher on 04/03/24 10:38:53 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.