National recognition for technician Phil

  • Date

    Thu 1 Sep 22

Dr Philip Davey

Dr Phil Davey from the School of Life Sciences has been shortlisted for a national award in recognition of his role in helping develop Essex’s global reputation for photosynthesis research.

Dr Davey, whose nomination was supported by his colleague Professor Tracy Lawson, is listed as a finalist in the Technician of the Year category at the 2022 Times Higher Education Awards.

He’ll find out if he’s won at an awards ceremony on 17 November.

For almost 20 years, Phil has been supporting Essex’s research-intensive plant productivity and environmental research groups. He has trained staff and students, supported research, led webinars, and supported plant-based research activities abroad.

During COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 he single-handedly maintained on-campus plant populations critical to ongoing world-leading research. Without him vital research samples may not have survived setting research back by years.

Speaking about the shortlist, Phil said: “Although it is a tremendous feeling to get this recognition, primarily it acknowledges the support from my colleagues in the School of Life Sciences and the wider University.”

Phil has been instrumental to the ground-breaking RIPE (Realising Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency) project, which aims to increase crop yields by improving plant photosynthesis and meet the challenge of feeding the world’s booming population.

He has travelled to Illinois several times for essential fieldwork for the multi-million-dollar project which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and helped Professor Lawson deliver training to rice researchers in Thailand which demonstrated the latest techniques in plant physiology research.

Professor Lawson said: “This is fantastic news and completely deserved. Phil is an excellent colleague and has contributed greatly to the success of the Plant Productivity Group at the University. He has been instrumental in outputs from my laboratory over the past ten years, making a substantial contribution to the success of the research, student experiences and outputs.

“Not only is he extremely helpful but he has made the lab a welcoming and pleasant environment to work in. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

Professor Leonard Schalkwyk, head of the School of Life Sciences, added: “The School of Life Sciences is proud of its strong team of technical staff.  Phil is an outstanding member and I’m delighted to see him recognised."

Phil's other accomplishments include testing a new aquatic chamber for LI-COR Environmental which helped Essex secure its own chamber (worth £8.5K) for free, and developing a successful business case for the delivery of four temperature-controlled rooms with a budget of £380K.

He has earned himself the title of the “go-to technician” by colleagues and companies he has worked with. His hard work, support and commitment does not go unnoticed with students either who have praised his “happy to help attitude”.