Celebrating Our 2020 Student Award Winners!

November 20, 2020

Anna McIntosh (TAS) with the next generation of farmers during a field trip to Viqueque in Timor-Leste, part of her Student Award experience.

After closed borders, movement restrictions and online learning for university students, we are pleased to offer something exciting for a small cohort to look forward to next year as we announce our Student Award 2020 winners from around Australia.

The applications were received and considered by our State and Territory Committees, and 12 talented students, will, when circumstances allow, experience international agricultural research and development first-hand. Some will do it from Australia, and some will wait to do so in-country.

As part of our efforts to support and encourage young people in studies, careers and volunteering in international agricultural research and development, our Student Awards allow awardees to include a visit to a developing country project of relevance to their studies and gain valuable international agricultural research experience and expertise.

Over the next year or so, most of the successful Student Award recipients (7 females and 5 males) hope to travel to their host countries to research and explore their chosen topic areas, and we will be presenting their experiences on their return. We appreciate that the coronavirus means that travel may be delayed and not take place before the end of June 2021, so there is flexibility built into this process. Some may find innovative ways to do the research at home, while others will wait, as all travel will need to comply with DFAT travel advice for health and safety purposes.

We are particularly pleased to see such a broad range of institutions, sectors and specialties covered again this year. Most of this year’s awardees are connecting their research to an existing Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project, while some others involve our global partners including the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and WorldFish.

Our sincere thanks to all the university supervisors and project leaders who make it possible for our awards to take place.

Research proposals presented by the students involve these twelve countries – Botswana, Fiji, India, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mexico, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, we have been sharing the experiences of our 2019 Student Award winners through their reflections which highlight how important this initiative is and what an enormous opportunity these awards present for the next generation of agricultural researchers.

We look forward to sharing the stories of this year’s awardee experiences and wish them well with their studies.

Congratulations to our 2020 Student Award Recipients!

Michael Wellington, Australian National University
Location: Zimbabwe
Research: Assessing irrigation in southern Africa using remote sensing methods
Projects/Institutions: LWR/2016/137 ACIAR – Transforming Irrigation in Southern Africa and ICRISAT.

Jenny House, Charles Darwin University
Location: Solomon Islands
Research: Sharing lessons and knowledge for inclusive community-based fisheries management
Projects/Institutions: FIS/2016/300 ACIAR – Strengthening and scaling community-based approaches to Pacific coastal fisheries management in support of the New Song and WorldFish.

Jordan Lee, The University of Queensland
Location: Tonga
Research: Scoping for Viability of a Prosperous Cacao Industry
Projects/Institutions: Christ’s University in Pacific

Sekondeko Ronnie Noga, James Cook University, Townsville Campus
Location: Botswana
Research: Advancing polycentric governance of dynamic social-ecological systems: Insights from the ephemeral Lake Ngami
Projects/Institutions: WAC/2020/157 ACIAR: IWMI and WorldFish.

Charlotte Rambla, The University of Queensland
Location: Mexico
Research: New insight and tools to develop elite wheat varieties with improved root systems
Projects/Institutions: CIMMYT “Rooty”: A Root Ideotype Toolbox to Support Improved Wheat Yields, funded by BBSRC through the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP).

William Ramsay, University of the Sunshine Coast
Location: Tanzania
Research: Developing the Magombera Nature Forest Reserve: An Agro-forestry & eco-tourism Approach.
Projects/Institutions: ACIAR Forestry, Tanzania Forestry Conservation Group and Reforest Africa.

Melanie Ohl, Central Queensland University
Location: Fiji
Research: Supporting families to improve dietary diversity: A Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach in rural Fijian farming communities.
Projects/Institutions: HORT/2014/080 ACIAR – Integrating protected cropping systems into high value vegetable value chains in the Pacific and Australia.

Ziwei Zhou, Griffith University
Location: Thailand
Research: RNA silencing for genes associated with sweetness in papaya fruit using CRISPR/Cas9
Projects/Institutions: PP18000: National Papaya Breeding and Evaluation Program – Horticulture Innovation Australia, ID at Griffith University is: 2208160 and Kasetsart University.

Sophie Lountain, University of South Australia
Location: India
Research: Reclaimed water technology for irrigation of edible crops in India
Projects/Institutions: LWR/2018/104 ACIAR – Institutions to support intensification, integrated decision making and inclusiveness in agriculture in the East Gangetic Plain and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Lucy Cooper, University of Tasmania
Location: Vietnam
Research: Training exchange to promote and support value-add processing for fruit production in Vietnam
Projects/Institutions: AGB/2018/171 ACIAR – implemented by UQ and FAVRI; Ferment Australia and University College.

Raj Kishore Rajan Babu Sheela, University of Tasmania
Location: Lao PDR
Research: Entomology in Laos
Projects/Institutions: The Crawford Fund, Laos Program

Clara Obregón, Murdoch University
Location: Malaysia
Research: The social-ecological dimensions of the blue swimmer crab fishery – lessons across the sea
Projects/Institutions: WorldFish – Resilient Small-Scale Fisheries Program