News: Vic Conference Scholar’s Reflections, December 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 all of the reports have been collated, we would like to share with you one last favourite report—from Victoria’s conference scholar Sophia Callaghan, of the University of Melbourne.

2016 Vic State Committee, Gardiner Foundation and Marcus Oldham sponsored scholars

2016 Vic State Committee, Gardiner Foundation and Marcus Oldham sponsored scholars


About Sophia Callaghan

I have recently commenced my PhD in plant pathology at the University of Melbourne. The main objective of my project is to identify the cause of yield decline in Victorian processing tomatoes. Apart from plant pathology, my professional interests include sustainable agricultural practices, agriculture in developing countries, soil health and integrated disease management (IDM). My connection to the Crawford Fund was initiated last year, when I worked as a plant pathologist and IDM advisor in Pakse, Laos. At the conference, I’m particularly looking forward to listening to the address by Professor Louise Fresco.

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

On the Scholar Program and Mentors

I continue to marvel at what an incredible, multi-faceted learning experience the 2016 Crawford Conference “Waste Not Want Not: The Circular Economy to Food Security”, provided. Firstly, I must mention the Crawford Scholar Program which transformed what might have been a very intimidating and overwhelming experience into something accessible, productive and hugely beneficial. Over the three days, our mentors helped us directly through introductions and handy tips, but even when they weren’t right by our sides, it brought great comfort to know they were nearby and willing to help!

On Plant Pathology

One of the major and slightly unexpected highlights of the conference was meeting quite a few plant pathologists from around Australia. I was naively unaware there would be so many people at the conference with interests so closely aligned to my own! Since the conference, I have been in dialogue with three new plant pathology colleagues from Adelaide and Queensland regarding my current work. I have hopes that these will be long-lasting relationships.

On the Conference Overall

So thank you, Crawford Fund, for providing me with the opportunity to attend your 2016 conference. I’ve come away with a new grasp of the full breadth and depth of the food waste issue. I’ve also experienced a boost in my inspiration and energy levels to continue working in this important field.


Visit our 2016 Conference Scholar page for a full list of this year’s scholars and to read their reports. For other scholar highlights, check out the ‘What Young People Say’ stories on our News page.