SA Conference Scholar’s Reflections

December 21, 2016

As part of the Crawford Fund’s Conference Scholarship initiative, each sponsored scholar is required to write a short report containing their reflections/impressions/take-home messages of the conference.

Now that the reports have been collated, we would like to share with you some of our favourites for 2016. This time we are highlighting South Australia, and conference scholar Jessica Mackay from the University of Adelaide.

2016 SA State Committee, ATSE SA, AARES and Elanco sponsored scholars
2016 SA State Committee, ATSE SA, AARES and Elanco sponsored scholars

About Jessica Mackay

I am in my third year of a Ph.D. at the University of Adelaide in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. I am investigating the use of waste materials as sustainable phosphorus fertilisers and the role of soil microbes in helping plants acquire phosphorus. I am interested in recycling waste, nutrient cycling and soil ecology. I think this conference and scholars program will help me learn more about opportunities in international development, which is an area I hope to move into.

The following excerpts are from Jessica’s conference report. To view her report in full, and to read the reflections of the other SA sponsored scholars, click here.

On Connecting with People

The highlight of the conference for me was meeting and connecting with inspiring people. The people I met ranged from fellow students to senior researchers, and from people interested in agricultural science, such as plant breeding, to people working on the social and economic aspects of agricultural development. It was fantastic to be surrounded by people with great enthusiasm for the work they do; all of them looking towards providing a food secure world.

On Food Waste & Loss Solutions

…I can’t help but be optimistic, given the range of solutions presented throughout the conference. Uber tractors and phone apps that help identify crop diseases, reducing on-farm losses; tracking devices to reduce losses during transport; and nutrient recovery technologies to recycle nutrients from waste back into crops were just some of the solutions presented. If all of these ideas are realised, I believe food waste can be drastically reduced.

On Research

…the idea that has stuck with me the most from these activities was the idea that my research is just one brick in a great wall. When doing a PhD, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture, and easy to begin thinking that your research will never amount to anything, but this idea of everyone’s research being but a single brick, has grounded me and reaffirmed my purpose.

Visit our 2016 Conference Scholar page for a full list of this year’s scholars, and watch this space for more conference scholar reflections.