Viola Müller

Working for Life

The improvement of plant health seems to be an area of focus around the world. Because plants have to resist a wide range of pests and diseases, research in plant protection is very relevant to provide humans with food and forestry products.

I am currently completing my Master Program Plant Science at the University of Bonn in Germany. During my Bachelor studies in Agriculture I was highly interested in doing an internship at a research institution to improve my knowledge in plant protection. I applied for a trainee position at the Crop Science division of Bayer and was overcome with joy when I was selected. I started working in the Product Development Green team within the Environmental Science unit in 2015 in Monheim, Germany. During this time, I was involved in the testing of different fertilizers for the consumer business, since divested. I also had the chance to join the project working on the development of a non-pesticide solution against pine weevils, a beetle that causes massive losses in European forestry. I had the opportunity to continue working in this project during my internships in 2016 and 2017. Furthermore, Dr. Michael Kilian, heading the unit Product Development Green, and Dr. Sebastian Hartmann-Wittulsky, Product Development Manager for Forestry, encouraged me to start my own small research project on the selectivity of certain herbicides on some fast growing types of Eucalyptus. This research became the basis of my Bachelor thesis. The time spent as a trainee at Bayer provided a unique opportunity to increase my knowledge about herbicides’ their mode of action, the genetic influences in plant development and how to develop and implement pest control strategies.

Viola Müller
Viola Müller
Master Program Plant Science, University of Bonn, Germany

My work as trainee was very fruitful in more than one way. It helped me identify an area I not only found interesting but that I really enjoyed: Forestry. I welcomed the opportunity to join as an intern one of the biggest forestry companies in world, Forestal Arauco, a subsidiary of Chilean company Celulosa Arauco y Constitucion S.A. with an international footprint. The parent company owns and manages forest plantations, and manufactures and exports timber products.

Forests touch our daily lives through many products such as wood for our fireplaces, pulp for books and money, panels for our houses and energy; not to mention their important role in climate change and biodiversity. Yet, pest control is not enough to keep forests healthy, Forestal Arauco, invests in research and innovation to guarantee the high quality of their products. Their research center Bioforest S.A. continuously searches for solutions against pests and diseases worldwide. It works in different research areas such as Silviculture and Genetics, Phytosanitary Protection, Ecosytem Wood Properties, Management, Biotechnology and Bioinformation, as well as research in Pulp.

I interned in Chile for four months in the Phytosanitary division of Bioforest. Living in Chile was possible through the support I received through Jeff Schell Scholarship, awarded by Bayer Foundation. At the research center, which works in cooperation with Bayer, we studied one of the main pests in pine plantations in Chile, the bark beetles s (Hylurgus ligniperda and Hylastes ater.) In addition to the laboratory work, I travelled to the south of Chile with my supervisor, Miguel Angel Poisson, Manager of the entomology group and Dr. Rodrigo Ahumada Chief of the Phytosanitary division, where we conducted some experiments in plantations and industrial areas. The work in the laboratory and on the field was fascinating and I learnt hands on pest control management in Latin American Forestry, and forestry production systems. My intern work also provided the content for my Master’s thesis about the behavior of one of the beetles that causes so much damage to trees (Hylurgus lingniperda) in Chile. Also, I learnt a lot about Chilean culture, saw incredible nature and met friendly and open people.

I am thankful for the experiences I made during my work at Forestal Arauco Bioforest S.A. in Chile, none of which would have been possible without the assistance and support I received from these two companies committed to sustainable forestry and to people development. I discovered a world where innovation and technology are breaking ground at an amazing pace, a world where cooperation is paramount to progress. I not only grew professionally through the work I did in pest control and forest health, with the support and encouragement of their scientists; but at a personal level having a chance to live in Chile and be exposed to their culture.

We depend on forests in so many ways that is what drives me to want to learn and work in in plant protection and product development, see plant diseases worldwide and help to improve plant health. Bayer has afforded me the opportunity to work in science to deliver a better life. Protecting our forests is one good way to ensure that as a society we stay healthy and thrive.

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