Philipp Penning has spent a month at Harper Adams University to complete a Nuffield Student Placement. During his time at the university he’s been working a research project entitled: ‘Farmer-Herder Conflict in Nigeria’.
He said: “Despite most of my family following a different path to myself, I chose the academic path because of an inexplicable burning passion for geography and field sciences.
“I honestly don't know where it came from but I'm sure I owe a lot to my teachers through secondary school who really helped to make the subject interesting.
“Work-experience to help get into university is quite difficult to find because not a lot of places offer the kind of work STEM students are looking for, so when I saw the Nuffield Research Placement opportunity, I knew I couldn't pass it up.
“After being accepted onto the placement, Nuffield told me I’d be based at Harper Adams University, supervised by Richard Byrne, working on a research project about the Nigeria Farmer-Herder crisis.
“It’s been my job to provide a proof of concept for a much larger project regarding the instigators of the crisis and why it's gradually becoming more of a culture clash.
“Alongside that, I had to find out to what degree social media has had an influence on the crisis.
“It’s been a desk-based project that involved using the internet as a tool to gather information which was merged to form one large relation that in turn helped to support/null our hypotheses.
“It's more fun than it sounds!
“The thing I wanted most out of this project was some much needed experience and a head start to university life. My ultimate goal is to have a smooth transition from college to university.
“My time at Harper has been unbelievable, with excellent facilities, wonderful staff and exactly what I've been looking for. I recommend students to check it and Nuffield out for some experience that's normally so difficult to find.”
Philipp’s supervisor Dr Richard Byrne said: “This is a project of great relevance to land management. Around the globe there is increasing friction between pastoralists and settled farmers with climate and conflict being key drivers.
"Understanding the nature of the situation helps develop robust responses to between both communities and promote food security and community safety.”