Midhurst student is heading to Oxford to help with crop research

George Dobson is set to go to Oxford
George Dobson is set to go to Oxford

A Midhurst Rother College alumnus is to join a doctoral research team at Oxford University, aiming to help increase crop yields and improve plants’ resilience to disease so that food supplies will meet growing world demand.

George Dobson went to Easebourne Primary School and was at Midhurst Intermediate School when it converted to an academy. He completed his GCSEs there in 2012 before transferring to Godalming College for his A levels. Later he went onto Durham University for a four-year masters degree in biology and this September will move to Oxford to begin his PhD.

He said growing up in Midhurst was a real privilege. “With the Downs on our doorstep, the coast and Chichester close by and opportunities like the Scouts, drama, music and martial arts to hand, I was always busy.”

Godalming was where he fell in love with learning. As well as A levels, he got the opportunity to trek in the Himalayas after the exams.

Durham is one of the UK’s top five universities and offers students a wealth of sporting, cultural and travel experiences to complement their academic studies. Whilst there George earned his second dan black belt in Tae Kwon Do and tried other martial arts.

Many evenings saw him play in large ensemble concerts, including at the city’s 1,000-year-old cathedral.

His rock band is a favourite around the local colleges and nightclubs and has recently played alongside the Hooisers.

He spent a summer in Beijing working in the laboratories of the world renowned Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as exploring the city and north eastern China.

Oxford is recognised as an international centre of excellence for plant sciences and has been involved in many of the major advances in the field. The research programme he is joining is keen to see major progress.

“Securing reliable long-term food supplies is assuming paramount importance,” says George. “The world’s population is forecast to top eight billion within five years and to pass ten billion by 2050. It is not just a matter of increasing production volumes; we have also got to build up resilience to disease, draught, flood, poor soil and bacteria.”

George expects that after four years in the north east Oxford will feel almost tropical: “My dad is really chuffed that I am going to Oxford. I borrowed his warmest winter coat when I went up to Durham and now he is looking forward to its return!”