Qld Committee: 2015 Scholars

Qld Committee Sponsored Scholars

The Qld committee supported eight young scholars to attend the Crawford Conference this year. These outstanding young scholars were drawn from across the state: The University of Queensland, James Cook University, Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology, and represented a range of disciplines from farming systems, plant genetics, horticulture, animal physiology, aquaculture and integrated pest management.

The feedback from the young scholars was extremely positive. Many highlighted the opportunity to gain a wider perspective of food security; one in which the private sector were such influential and committed participants. A further common feedback theme referred to opportunities to meet with other young scholars from across Australia.

Click on the links below to view scholar bios and conference reports.

Gurion Ang, The University of Queensland
Massimiliano (Max) De Antoni Migliorati, Queensland University of Technology
Brodie Foster, The University of Queensland
David Innes, The University of Queensland
Monal Lal, James Cook University
Anika Miller-Cooper, The University of Queensland
Usana Nantawan, Griffith University
Caspar Roxburgh, Queensland Alliance for Agricultural and Food Innovation (QAAFI)
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2015 Qld Committee sponsored scholars
2015 Qld Committee sponsored scholars

Gurion Ang

I’m a PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland. The overarching theme of my research is in insect-plant interactions. This scholarship was granted for work in Samoa on enhancing natural enemy control of diamondback moth on cabbages. I’m also an avid gardener and dog lover.

Conference Report
Extracted from The Crawford Fund Crawford-in-Queensland Student Award Report

The Crawford Fund National Conference:
In this section, I provide an outline on how the Crawford Fund National Conference, held in Canberra 10-12 August 2015, benefitted my professional career and what I consider to be the highlights of the program.
Attending the conference has benefitted my professional development significantly. It gave me my first opportunity to meet a diversity of professionals (not all were scientists) on an international platform. It provided a conducive environment for me to learn about the work of other professionals at varying stages of their career, while allowing me to practice communicating my science to non-target audiences. The symposia were focussed on a variety of topics while keeping to the theme of agricultural business, and the talks were interesting and enjoyable. Secondarily, attending the conference has allowed me to appreciate how conferences at this scale are organised, executed, and managed.
I was active in social networking during the conference, and made contacts with respected scientists (particularly those in sustainable agriculture). I note that this list is a very international list. Some of these social networking events were organised specifically for the scholars, and I was able to meet my generation of agricultural scientists and practitioners and discussed their endeavours and ambitions; most are active on social media platforms and this has been a useful way to stay in touch. I feel most privileged to be a part of this network of young scientists and practitioners as we shape the future of agriculture for Australia.

I would like to thank my supervisors, A/Prof Mike Furlong and Prof Myron Zalucki, for encouraging me to apply for the award and for additional expenses for this trip. I would also like to formally thank the Crawford Fund Queensland Committee (led by Dr Bruce Pengelly) for their consideration of my application and this award. Brodie Foster, Aleni Uelese, Pati Niko, and Frank from the ACIAR IPM team in UQ and Samoa provided technical assistance for this work.

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Max De Antoni Migliorati

Max is an agricultural scientist specialising in the interaction of carbon, nitrogen and water in agricultural soils. His research interests relate mainly to climate change and sustainable agricultural practices, with special focus on fertilisation and food security. Before gaining his PhD on nitrous oxide emissions from cereal cropping systems in subtropical environments, he became a certified agronomist and spent two years working on Research & Development—assessing optimal use of Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers, alternative water and nutrients management strategies and conducting research on turf quality enhancement. He currently holds a position as a Research Associate at the Institute for Future Environments at Queensland University of Technology.
“I believe that attending the conference could be a pivotal moment in my career, as it will give me the opportunity to better identify the private sector’s research priorities and the sourcing strategies used to meet future food demand within the limits of the earth’s natural resources. The conference will be an ideal occasion to network with key players in food security in both private and public sectors, enabling me to discuss possible collaborations or where to focus my research.”

Conference Report
The organisation was impeccable and the conference itself went beyond my expectations. Apart from the very interesting presentations, it was simply great to have the chance to network with so many key players in the sector of food security. Sometimes I wonder how you managed to get so many important and busy people in the same room for 2 days, and just for us! I also had the opportunity to meet my generation of agricultural researchers, it was inspiring and great fun.
Specifically, I found particularly inspiring the talks of Dr Cary Fowler (FAO), Dr Martin Kropff (CYMMIT), Dr Marco Ferroni (Syngenta) and Her Excellency Gerda Varburg (UN), as they all discussed their perspective, approach and contribution to making the world a less food insecure place. I found fascinating observing how researchers, politicians and the private sector can share many interests and support each other to achieve a sustainable intensification of agricultural production. The most exciting part was however after the talks, when I had the opportunity to discuss with the speakers about some specific topics they mentioned in their presentations. It was rewarding and absolutely inspiring.
What also struck me was the energy transmitted by Dr Nick Austen, CEO of ACIAR and Dr Martin Kropff, DG of CIMMYT when they spoke about their journey in their studies and careers. Importantly, they both stressed the importance of taking every opportunity that can arise during our career in order to gain a wide array of skills and expertise.
The insightfulness of the speakers, together with the energy and passion of the other scholars, had a profound impact on me as a person and as a scientist. I came home with a stronger motivation and a clearer mind on how I would like my career to be, and that is the reason why I strongly recommend this experience to all the agricultural students interested in food security and supporting economic and social development in developing countries.
Finally, I would like to thank my supervisor, Prof Peter Grace, for this opportunity and Dr Bruce Pengelly, head of the Crawford Fund Queensland Committee, for considering my application.

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Brodie Foster

I am currently completing my honours at the University of Queensland and my background is in insect taxonomy and phylogenetics. I have worked on moths and scale insects in the past, but more broadly I am interested in applying molecular tools to ecological questions. My honours project is concerned with the species status of a small parasitoid wasp that has potential as a biological control agent of a serious cabbage pest in many parts of the world. The Crawford-in-Queensland scholarship has funded trips to Samoa, where the wasp occurs, to collect material for genetic analysis. Coming from an entomology background, I look forward to seeing how insects are represented at the conference and hearing about other problems faced in agriculture.

Conference Report
Attending the Crawford Fund Annual Parliamentary Conference, and the events organised for the surrounding days, was a great experience. The conference itself was very well organised and attracted a number of renowned speakers from Australia and the world. It was a great pleasure to meet some of these speakers at the conference and other like-minded people that attended. The conference was a perfect opportunity to be exposed to the current discourse on food security from the perspectives of the public and private sectors, and the emphasis of this discussion was the need for collaboration between these sectors. On Scholars Day, it was great to hear from Dr. Nick Austin (CEO, ACIAR) and Dr. Martin Kropff (Director General, CYMMIT) in particular about their experiences with international agricultural research that led them to their current positions. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the week was a presentation by Dr. Cary Fowler about his role in establishing the Global “doomsday” Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, and attending a special screening of the “Seeds of Time” documentary. I would like to express my gratitude to the Queensland Crawford Fund Committee for the opportunity to attend the conference, and also for supporting travel to Samoa with the Crawford-in-Queensland scholarship to conduct parts of my honours research.

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David Innes

I am currently studying a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) at UQ Gatton and I’m in my final year. I also work on campus as a supervisor of 115 residents in one of our colleges, and as a dairy assistant on our research dairy. My honours project is looking at understanding the responses of IGF-1 in Bos indicus—growing steers under different diet treatments and injections of bovine somatotropin (bST/GH). I have a keen interest in helping developing nations, having spent time volunteering in Vanuatu. I wish to have a positive impact on these nations in the future through my experiences in agriculture and I am excited by the experiences that the Crawford Fund are offering us.

Conference Report
The opportunity to attend the 2015 Crawford Fund Annual Parliamentary Conference was undoubtable one of the best experiences I’ve had during my undergraduate studies. Having always had an interest in the developing world, and agriculture, I have been fortunate to find myself surrounded by researchers in my honours studies who work through ACIAR funded projects. This led me to the Crawford Fund who generously supported my place at their conference.
Food security is an important issue for agricultural science students, and this conference focussed on this important area. The theme of the conference “The business of food security: profitability, sustainability and risk” was thought provoking for ‘business’ and ‘profitability’ where not words that I would have normally associated with food security, however this conference really highlighted their integral role in the huge task of a developing a more food secure world.
One of the best aspects of this conference was that the private sector was well represented by businesses who have significant positive influences on the markets, cultures and countries they operate within. My particular interests involve the role of livestock industries in food security, so Elanco’s Jessica Ramsden presentation was very relevant. The deficiency of micronutrients in 1 out of 3 people in developing nations could be efficiently provided for through animal products, such as meat and dairy, which I found very inspiring. In addition, through innovation, the prediction that an increase in milk of 140mL/cow/day would equate to meeting increased global dairy demands with 66 million less cows and subsequently less feed, farmland and water, was particularly thought provoking.
Meeting a challenge such as this, and the many other challenges presented by the company representatives, requires trusting, innovative and sustainable partnerships between multiple stakeholders across both the private and public sectors. It was demonstrated that much of the good research and work in the public sector must at some point be scaled up and broadcasted to a significant population. This can be successfully achieved by a private entity who can view it both as a business prospect and as an aid program, which allows investment in the project for outcomes of profit and positive influence.
Profit drives spending, and will drive spending on more R&D, so it becomes clear just how well the words ‘business’ and ‘profit’ fall into the picture of food security.
I had multiple highlights over the conference, including hearing from H.E. Gerda Verburg, Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security and of the World Economic Forum Council on Food Security and Nutrition, and Dr Cary Fowler, former executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust and head of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Scholar Day was also a highlight for me where we furthered our networking with the other 45 young scholars who were sponsored. We also heard again from Dr Cary Fowler and Prof Martin Kropff, Director General of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), who provided more personal presentations that were full of experiences and suggestions that are invaluable to us.
This experience, thanks to the Crawford Fund, through the Queensland Crawford Fund Committee, has significantly broadened my knowledge and excitement for international agricultural research and development and for that I am extremely grateful.

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Monal Lal

Monal Lal is from the Fiji Islands, and holds Bachelor of Science (Marine Science) and Master of Science (Marine Science) degrees from the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji Islands. He is currently the recipient of an ACIAR John Allwright Fellowship, through which he is studying for a PhD in Aquaculture at JCU.
Over the course of his studies he has had the opportunity to work with a number of tropical finfish and crustacean species used for aquaculture, and a highlight was closing the lifecycle of the Monkey River Prawn (Macrobrachium lar) in captivity for the first time. His research interests lie in the selective breeding and production of finfish, bivalve and crustacean species, population genetics and the sustainable development of aquaculture in small island states.
“I would like to attend the Business of Food Security 2015 conference because its theme mirrors important challenges faced by my home country, the Fiji Islands. I would also like to learn more about the bigger picture of the issue, and hold discussions with individuals involved at various levels, to enrich my understanding and develop connections which may play a role in addressing food security in Fiji.”

Conference Report
Extracted from The Crawford Fund Crawford-in-Queensland Student Award Report

Value of attendance at the Crawford Fund Annual Conference:
Being awarded a travel bursary to attend the 2015 Crawford Fund annual conference on food security was a large bonus in addition to the grant award. The theme of the conference of “The business of food security: profitability, sustainability and risk” was very relevant to the broader outcomes of developing livelihoods and sustainable resource management, which are parallel goals behind my own research. The conference was a great opportunity to exchange ideas and information with delegates, meet Crawford Fund staff, fellow scholars, reconnect with ACIAR personnel and also engage with individuals such as Dr. Meryl Williams and Dr. Carey Fowler. Both the conference and Scholar Day were very well organised with renowned speakers, and apart from presenting numerous networking opportunities made for a very informative and engaging experience overall.

Value of the Crawford-in-Queensland student award to the project:
The award of the Crawford-in-Queensland grant has made a substantial contribution to my PhD research. Modern studies to evaluate the population genetic structure of organisms in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for conservation, stock management or taxonomic resolution are increasingly including components of environmental data for comparison against the results of genetic analyses, as studying species in isolation from their environments provides very limited information. In the marine environment where the majority of species rely on ocean currents for larval dispersal, modelling dispersal pathways is allowing for greater insights into their biology and ecology which are critically important for conservation and management efforts.
Being able to carry out the particle dispersal modelling work for the black-lip pearl oyster using an interdisciplinary approach with the involvement of project personnel both in Fiji and Australia has enhanced the scope and quality of the work, as well as given me a greater understanding of how to manage collaborative research. Throughout my PhD candidature, I have found that opportunities to apply for small grants to value-add to ongoing research projects are scarce, and this is where the Crawford-in-Queensland student awards make a significant contribution. Being awarded a grant has also been a great learning experience in responding to grant requests for proposals, managing the expenditure of funding and finally reporting on results, which will benefit me when seeking similar funding opportunities later on in my career.

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Anika Miller-Cooper

My name is Anika Miller-Cooper; I was born in Argentina and am an Australian Citizen. I wanted to study agricultural science since I was young, and am now completing my Honours year in the Bachelor of Agricultural Science at The University of Queensland, studying wheat and barley root traits. My goals in my agricultural science career are to help as many people as I can through food production, and to work together with people in rural or developing communities around the world to improve agricultural systems in a sustainable manner. This conference is an amazing opportunity for me to learn what is happening globally in international agricultural development and research. The Crawford in Queensland student award has allowed me to travel to Uruguay in June-July 2015 and work with the technicians at INIA to incorporate wheat and barley root trait analysis into their breeding programs. I am extremely grateful to have this experience and insight into international agricultural development.

Conference Report
Having the opportunity to attend the Crawford Fund Conference this year allowed me to gain insight into how we as members of the agriculture science and agribusiness industry can contribute to advocating the importance of integrating food security into the business realm; and the greater positive impact we would have if it is done this way. The opening on Monday night by Dr Cary Fowler formed a foundation for the next days of the conference for all delegates, board members and scholars to discuss about the issues surrounding food security and the future of crop diversity. It was also inspiring to learn more about Sir John Crawford and the work he accomplished as an Australian pioneer of International Agriculture Research (IAR) for development and was key to enhancing international relations through World Bank missions with countries such as India. During the dinner and networking event, the conversations I had with several scholars, Crawford Fund board members, and the program director of WWF Australia, Matt Wilson, provided me with an understanding that the next few days would involve debating critical issues surrounding food security and how we could entice large and corporate companies to make food security part of their business model. However, the conference did not simply describe the issues; as scholars we were able to observe key players in the industry provide examples of how their businesses are leading the way in supporting IAR to contribute to a more food secure future. Some key pieces of advice for example, was ‘the need for the collaboration for interdisciplinary innovation for greater impact’, emphasized by Director General of CIMMYT, Dr Martin Kropff. Seeing examples of how large corporations are making food security their business was a definite highlight for me and other scholars, who may have been previously unaware of this. Being able to listen to Her Excellency Gerda Varburg was also a highlight as she gave advice that was direct and relevant to everyone at the conference about trust in partnerships especially between all levels of the supply chain in agriculture, from smallholder farmers to large corporations, to the government. Her Excellency also emphasized on the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration. The next day, all the scholars were invited to Questacon with the board members and some key guests also attending. The presentations then were more directed at young people in agriculture and how to get involved. Many of the scholars, including myself, were all very interested to hear about these tips on how we could contribute, after being presented with issues and possible solutions on food security the previous day. Dr Nick Austen, CEO of ACIAR and Dr Martin Kropff, DG of CIMMYT spoke about their journey in their studies and careers and how they got to be in their positions as major contributors to the IAR scene. Both stressed the importance of saying “yes” to the opportunities that present themselves, which was a common theme throughout the rest of the day. I was also incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to share my experience of conducting IAR in Uruguay during June-July, an incredibly valuable experience that would not have been possible without the Crawford-In-Queensland scholarship award. I would definitely recommend the youth who want to be involved in agriculture science to participate in this conference next year!

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Usana Nantawan

My name is Usana (Mai) Nantawan, a PhD candidate from Griffith University, Queensland. I am currently working on a papaya breeding project. My study aims to improve fruit quality traits of papaya and uncover their genetics control, which will assist an expansion of the Australian papaya industry.
I am really grateful for an opportunity to attend the Crawford fund conference this year. It is a very interesting topic, and it would broaden my knowledge on many aspects of world food production. Also, this event provides me with a good opportunity to build on connections with scientists and other students who work in a similar field.

Conference Report
Food security had never been taken into my consideration, until I had a chance to attend a Crawford Fund conference. It opened my eyes and widen my thought about food security. This year the theme was set into a topic of “The business of food security: profitability, sustainability and risk”. As a young scholar, I am grateful for having an opportunity to join the conference. I have learned insight into global agriculture especially in context of food security. As food security cannot be achieved without partnership and innovation, it was very interesting to hear new visions from both public and private sectors. By all mean this conference is the starting point for the opportunities to maintain sustainability and strengthen our food production system.
The first day of conference, I attend Sir John Crawford memorial address and networking dinner. I was impressed by Sir John Crawford’s contribution to Australian agriculture research as well as Dr. Cary Fowler’s lecture. The dinner conference ended with memorable experiences. I also really like the open design of dinner conference. It was a very warm-welcoming and friendly atmosphere as it was non-seated dinner. I had chance to meet other young scholars and get to know everyone. We exchange knowledge and had discussions on many topics. Also I had opportunity to talk to senior scientists and researchers from various institutes. In my view, I think it was one of the best activities that benefit directly to all young scholars in term of developing our professional connection and prepare for future career.
Attending parliamentary conference on second day was another interesting day. There were many great speakers from around the world providing lectures and presentations. Their works and research contributed to world food security and agriculture sustainability. The Q&A session was the highlight for me. It was very interesting to see different thoughts and comments from experts as well as other participants. During networking activity I had chance to meet and discuss with some keynote speakers and the representatives from the Crawford fund and ACIAR. It was a good opportunity to pick up their brains and learn from their experience.
On the last day of the conference, we went to Questacon for a scholar day. It was fun and fantastic. There was a morning session for young scholars to meet senior scientists, and ask question about their career journey. I was really appreciated for their time and advices. In the afternoon, there was a session for documentary of Dr. Cary Fowler and his conservation project “ The Svalbard Global Seed Vault”. I believe this documentary inspired everyone. I admire Dr. Cary’s work and his passion. It made me realise that everything is possible. Agriculture research will be more enjoyable and worthwhile doing when it benefits to the whole world. I am glad that I choose my career to work for agriculture sector. I wish one day I can work internationally and make a contribution toward sustainability and food security.

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Caspar Roxburgh

Caspar Roxburgh graduated with a bachelor in Agricultural Science (Hons)/International Development from La Trobe University in 2012. After researching the effect of subsoil manuring on wheat root growth, he moved to Brisbane to undertake a PhD comparing pathways for intensification of cropping systems in Queensland and Mozambique. This included eight months residing in regional Mozambique where he conducted household surveys, field trials, and supervised and trained local research students. Caspar has presented at international forums in Canada, the United States, France, and Sydney. He currently sits as the representative of emerging agriculture graduates on the board of Career Harvest Incorporated.
“I wanted to attend the Crawford Conference as it is the primary Australian forum for those working in international agricultural development. As I’m approaching the completion of my studies, I hope that it will be a useful forum to learn more about the people involved in this area and make valuable connections for the future.”

Conference Report
My experience at the 2015 Crawford Conference was very enjoyable and rewarding. The Crawford keynote speaker Dr Cary Fowler gave an inspiring, thoughtful and honest speech on his work in setting up the Global Seed Vault. Dr Fowler spoke to the serious ecological challenges facing the globe and our limited collective efforts to address these issues. I personally found the talk reinvigorating, reminding me of my emotional commitment to agricultural research and development and why that emotion is important in what is so often a rational and objective endeavour.
The networking dinner after the speech by Dr Fowler was also a highlight for me. While I did not meet any more senior individuals in the industry who were able to provide valuable advice or insight for myself, I did meet many younger scholars who I feel I may be able to help enter the world of research for development. It was inspiring to see so many other young people passionate about using agriculture to do good. This community of like-minded individuals was something not available to me as an undergraduate where I felt very alone in my commitment to a better world through agriculture. Not only was it pleasing to meet all these young scholars, but also I felt an immediate opportunity to give back some goodwill after receiving so much myself as a younger student. All the connections made in the conference were with those I feel I may be able to help in the future.
The day in parliament was less rewarding than the first evening. While I certainly enjoyed some of the talks (i.e. that of Dr Marco Ferroni), I found some of the speakers did not appear to have a clear message or point that they were trying to make in their talks. This led to myself and those around me questioning the purpose of these talks. However, despite these comments, I nonetheless found the day to be insightful into how businesses are working towards international agricultural development. It allowed me to consider anew how I may look to a career in agribusiness as a means of working for humanitarian outcomes.
The scholars’ day again contained a patchwork of varying events with mixed benefit to myself. I found the talks at the beginning of the day from Martin Kropff and Nick Austin to be very interesting. In particular, I liked how the two outlined their own personal stories in the field in order to illustrate how there often is no clear path in a successful life in agricultural research and development. Another highlight was the speech by Anthony Leddin who, unlike all the other speakers at the conference, really spoke to how hard it can actually be to achieve a career in agricultural research for development. In particular, he spoke of the difficulty he faced in getting the necessary experience for such work, and even after doing so, the remaining challenges. I found his candour refreshing after many talks which lacked specific detail of the nitty-gritty in working in international agricultural development.
I would like to thank the Queensland Crawford Committee for supporting my attendance at the conference. It was, without a doubt, a rewarding and valuable experience for me. I am sure that I will continue to reap benefits from this conference in the years to come and I look forward to attending future Crawford events.

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