Read all about the experiences of our 2018 Student Awardees

December 9, 2019

As part of our efforts to support and encourage the next generation of Australians in study, careers and volunteering in international agricultural research, our Crawford Fund State and Territory Committees fund our highly sought after Student Awards. In 2018, we announced 22 Australian tertiary students had won the privilege to gain international agricultural research experience and expertise.

Over recent months, the successful recipients have wrapped up their project work, almost all of which involved travel to a host country, where they were immersed in research teams to learn firsthand the immense challenges and rewards living, working and learning within another culture.

Once again, we wish to sincerely thank ACIAR and the international centres and NGOs that allow the students to work within their projects each year as part of the Student Award program.

Below you’ll find highlights from some of the experiences, and here is the complete set of reflections for your reading pleasure.

Applications for the 2020 Student Awards are now open, and we encourage applications before Friday 26 June, 2020.

Samantha Nowland (NT) at a Ravita Women’s Group meeting in Fiji
as part of her Student Award experience.


Jacinta Watkins, Australian National University
Location: Philippines – Research: IRRI Production Course – InstituteIRRI

“Interacting with farmers made all participants realise that if we want to translate our research, we also need an understanding of farmers’ social situation and needs. Both groups of farmers were concerned about the future of rice production and agriculture in general as young people are not interested in becoming rice farmers. This was eye opening for me as engaging youth in agriculture will become a big part of future food security and is something I had not considered before.”


Brooke Kaveney, Charles Sturt University
Location: Philippines – Research: IRRI Production Course – InstituteIRRI

Marisa Mitchell, University of Sydney
Location: Vietnam – Research: Identifying the constraints and/or opportunities in a One Health surveillance system for antibiotic resistance in Vietnam – InstituteACIAR

Lucinda Dunn, University of Sydney
Location: Cambodia – Research: Integrated pest management for rice stem borers in Cambodia – InstituteACIAR
“This experience provided by the Crawford Fund was educationally and personally rewarding.  I would like to thank the Crawford Fund for providing me with the Student Award which allowed me to fulfil my first season of fieldwork.”

Jessica Fearnley, University of New England
Location: Cambodia – Research: Insect pest management in north west Cambodia – InstituteACIAR
“I was very lucky to not only expand my knowledge of agricultural systems and learn new farming practices, but I was able to immerse myself in the Cambodian culture…I even got to experience a traditional cooking class at Nary’s Kitchen and practice my peak hour bike riding skills. I want to thank the Crawford Fund for giving me this opportunity to participate in this program, it has given me a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Rachael Wood, Charles Sturt University
Location: Philippines – Research: IRRI Production Course – InstituteIRRI

Luisa Olmo, University of Sydney
Location: Cambodia – Research: Seroprevalence and risk factor study of reproductive pathogens in smallholder cattle and buffalo – InstituteACIAR


Samantha Nowland, Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Resources & The University of the Sunshine Coast – Location: Tonga, Fiji – Research: Coastal Women’s Enterprise Building; Case study in pearl handicraft – InstituteACIAR
“Personally, the study tour was an invaluable life experience and I am excited to see how the women progress in their pearl enterprises. I will definitely be back to both Tonga and Fiji. There is nothing that can replace personal experience and I am so grateful that the Crawford Fund appreciate this and enable overseas hands-on experiences, through this Award.”


Tamaya Peressini, University of Queensland
Location: Mexico – Research: Evaluating new sources of genetic resistance to wheat tan spot using global races of Pyrenophora tritici-repentis – InstituteCIMMYT

“I would like to thank the Crawford Fund Queensland Committee for funding this visit; not only was I able to immerse myself in world class plant pathology research, I have been given valuable exposure to international agricultural research that will give my research career a boost in the right direction.”

Henry Birt, University of Queensland – PROJECT PENDING
Location: Indonesia – Research: Exploiting the banana microbiome to suppress Panama disease in Indonesia – InstituteACIAR

Hayley Butcher, University of the Sunshine Coast
Location: Samoa – Research: Consumption practices and health benefits of the edible seaweed Caulerpa (sea grapes) within the Samoan diet – InstituteACIAR

Jacqueline Lau, James Cook University
Location: Malaysia – Research: The contribution co-management & community-based approaches to small-scale fisheries in developing countries: a global analysis – InstituteACIAR
“Both of these trips provided experiences and connections that I would otherwise not have been able to pursue as part of my PhD…This Award has allowed me to meet a range of WorldFish colleagues and begin to develop my future research plans, grounded in a better understanding of the issues facing small-scale fisheries.”

Sonal Channale, University of Southern Queensland
Location: India – Research: Identification of candidate resistance genes in chickpea {Cicer arietinum) against root-lesion nematode Pratylenchus thorneiInstituteICRISAT
“I am grateful to the Crawford Fund as the platform for enabling me to develop the necessary skills to use various software and tools for bioinformatics data analysis. With this unique opportunity I was able to work in international environment and was able to interact with students and researchers working on different aspects of agriculture sustainability and market policies.”

Ruby Grantham, James Cook University
Location: Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste – Research: The temporal dynamics of small-scale fisheries as part of diversified coastal livelihoods – InstituteACIAR

Chieu Hoang Dinh, University of the Sunshine Coast
Location: Vietnam – Research: Analysis of genetic diversity for sea cucumber conservation in Vietnam and Australia – InstituteACIAR

Thomas Noble, Queensland University of Technology
Location: Myanmar – Research: Mungbean diversity and pathogen identification – InstituteACIAR

Daniel Cruz, University of Queensland
Location: India – Research: Agro-ecological research and training in India and Australia: sharing knowledge for a sustainable future – InstituteNavdanya, Biodiversity Conservation Farm, Uttarakhand-India


Mathu Indren, University of Adelaide
Location: Nepal – Research: Power from poo: field-testing biochar addition to large scale anaerobic digesters

“Overall, this experience was incredibly valuable and greatly broadened my research experience. The insights gained from this experience will help to design studies that are relevant to biogas producers both in developing countries and in Australia.” 


Melinda Sward, University of Tasmania
Location: Vietnam – Research: Integrating forage legumes into non-leguminous cut and carry cattle feed systems – InstituteACIAR


Ziyang Loh, University of Melbourne
Location: Myanmar – Research: Myanmar International Veterinary Development – InstituteACIAR

Kimberly Pellosis, University of Melbourne
Location: Timor-Leste – Research: Agricultural innovations for communities for intensified and sustainable farming systems in Timor-Leste – InstituteACIAR
I’ve fallen in love with the country, and the positivity, warmness and kindness of its people. As I embark on my plane and leave this enchanted island, and on to my next journey, I leave with a heightened sense of appreciation and awe towards agriculture for development, and Australia’s engagement in international agricultural research and development. I thank the Crawford Fund for making all this possible.”


Christian Berger, University of Western Australia
Location: Timor-Leste – Research: Examining youth engagement in agriculture: a case-study from Timor-Leste – InstituteACIAR
My experience here in Timor-Leste has exceeded my expectations by a long shot. … Living in the rural area of Timor-Leste really puts into perspective what humans really need. To put food on the table for our families and to be loved by those close to us. In a way, I felt like I was sent back in time to my own childhood, where a lot farm work was done manually…I look forward to going back home to share all these experiences with my partner, however, I will leave this country a little melancholy – it won’t be the last time that I come to this country.”