Getting to know our Student Awardees – Greta Stark, University of Adelaide

November 17, 2021

In July, we announced our 2021 Student Awardees – those talented students from around Australia  selected by our State and Territory Committees to experience international agricultural research and development firsthand, in a COVID safe manner of course!

The 2021 recipients will carry out research across a diverse range of topics, focused in Australia, Laos, Uruguay, Vietnam, Fiji, Samoa, Uruguay, Malaysia, Brazil, Nepal and Myanmar. We would like to thank our partner organisations for making these opportunities available, including the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Grains Research and Development Corporation, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), and the Sunrice Rice Research Facility.

We are excited to now bring you more details of each of our Awardees, their projects, and what they hope to achieve with the opportunity provided by our support. We are pleased to also provide input from our awardees’ supervisors on what they see as the benefit of the opportunity to add an international component to their student’s studies and research.


Greta Stark
Agricultural Science (Honours)
University of Adelaide

Research – Australian Rice Research

Supervisor quote:

Greta clearly has a passion to use her skills in agriculture to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, as highlighted by her leadership in RAID and her Honours studies on crop diversity and human nutrition at the University of Adelaide. In the current circumstances, it is difficult to have direct involvement in developing countries but these collaborations are more important than ever, given the multiple burdens experienced in the countries in which we work most closely.  This support from the Crawford fund provides a unique experience for Greta, and others, to expand networks and understanding, and to develop new skills that will be highly applicable to working in these countries.

Assoc Professor Matthew D Denton, Postgraduate Coordinator, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide

How did you become interested in international ag for development and focusing your research in developing countries?

I first came across international ag for development in a third-year plant breeding course I completed as part of my undergraduate degree. We were talking in a lecture about food and nutrition security and how we will feed the world into the future, with the added complications of climate change and population growth. Being passionate about action on climate change and agricultural systems and interested in food, culture and languages, this topic immediately piqued my interest. After the lecture, I did some research and talked to professors that worked in the field. This is how I found out about the Crawford Fund and how my Honours project came about. Determining how we will continue to feed the world with sustainable, nutritious food is a challenge, but one I am more than happy to be a part of.

Have you had any former experience in ag for development?

As part of my undergraduate degree at University, I volunteered in Fiji for a month. It was a real eye-opening experience for me, and made me certain ag for development is the field I want to work in. It was such a privilege to be welcomed into the Fijian villages to be informed about their agricultural systems and overall way of life. It was an experience I will never forget.

Are there benefits to Australia from the proposed award work?

As my project is based in Australia, due to the ever-changing COVID-19 situation, the work I will be doing will significantly benefit Australian rice systems. It will also add to international work conducted by SunRice in countries including Vietnam.

Please tell us about what you hope to do as part of your award and the impact it may achieve.

As part of this award, I really hope to contribute to Australian rice-based research in any way I can. Learning about rice systems, from planting to growth and harvesting is something I’ll find really interesting. I’m really keen to do some hands-on work out in the field and be part of the on-ground solutions to improving the ways rice is grown both internationally and in Australia. Rice is such an important crop worldwide, with so many people relying on it as their main source of calories. Understanding the way rice is grown, how to improve that and do it more efficiently with less water and energy is something I can’t wait to get started on!

What do you want to be working on in the future?

In the future, I would love to work internationally either with the Australian Government or a United Nations organisation such as the FAO. I am committed to being part of making a real difference in the world and doing what I can for the people that need it most. I am so lucky to have been born in Australia and to have been able to complete my university degree in a safe country where food is nutritious and plentiful and healthcare is provided. Now, I think it’s only fair to share the knowledge I have gained through my studies with the rest of the world. Adequate food and nutrition should not be a luxury provided to the select few that can afford it. It should be provided to everyone, and we should be making that, and action on climate change, a top priority.

Do you have advice for others interested in getting involved in international ag development?

Yes! Get involved with the RAID (Researchers in Agriculture for International Development) Network! Being a RAID Rep for SA, we try and have regular meetings with fascinating people in the industry to increase awareness of the industry and get people (from undergrad, PhD students and beyond) more involved.

Some other advice I’d give if you’re keen to get into this field is to chat with your professors and lecturers at your university. In my experience, many of them currently work or have worked in fields that I am interested in. They have great stories and really useful and helpful advice. They might know of people you can get into contact with or suggest organisations and clubs you can be a part of. Also, say yes to every opportunity that presents itself, you never know what it could lead to!