Deep-dive: what does a principal researcher do?

To an outsider, the daily activities of the diverse stakeholders involved in the NOVATERRA project may seem unfamiliar and difficult to grasp. For instance, understanding the precise role of a principal researcher at NOVATERRA can be quite challenging.

Fortunately, we had the privilege of gaining insights from Raquel Abad, a principal researcher representing NOVATERRA’s partner, Corteva Agriscience. In an enlightening conversation, she shed light on the tasks and challenges she encounters while working within the context of the ambitious NOVATERRA project.

In the realm of daily activities, a principal researcher designs the protocols of the trials, specifying how these will be applied to the field. Once they communicate the protocols to the field scientists and to some specialised companies that do those trials – also known as “contractors”, they begin the monitoring activities and the collection of data. Finally, at the end of the trials, they summarise the results, assessing the data for any trend or discrepancy observed.

Working on the NOVATERRA project presents formidable challenges for a principal researcher. “Within NOVATERRA, there are distinct organisations from various countries. This diversity creates some complications, such as different data collection programmes, different farm practices, and different specialisations,” Raquel emphasised. Notably, the most arduous task is achieving harmonisation, as all procedures must adhere to a unified format. Additionally, effective communication among project partners can prove to be a demanding endeavour.

By delving into the intricacies of a principal researcher’s role within the NOVATERRA project, Raquel Abad has provided invaluable insights into the remarkable efforts required to overcome the obstacles and ensure the project’s success.