August 4, 2020
The Crawford Fund Queensland Committee supports targeted training of overseas scientists and extension officers through its International Engagement Awards. As part of a wider initiative by the Crawford Fund to promote mentoring activities by experienced Australian researchers and volunteers, the Committee opened the award to mentoring opportunities as well as training activities.
Earlier this year, two workshops were held at Nusa Cendana University and Universitas Gadja Mada in Indonesia, supported by Queensland’s 2019 International Engagement Awards and presented by Professor André Drenth, Professorial Research Fellow, QAAFI Centre for Horticultural Science at the University of Queensland.
The workshop involved mentoring 12 young scientists at each location with the aim to improve relevant life skills and key components needed for success in science. Topics in the workshop ranged from goal setting, time management, improving focus on priorities, improving presentation skills and strategies to connect with the audience. Another important component involved skills needed for manuscript writing and how to structure research questions and research approaches in such a way that they form the core around which a scientific paper can be written.
“Although the training and mentoring provided was broad and of a general nature, it is important to develop human capacity in the area of agricultural science and plant protection in particular,” said Professor Drenth.
“Effective collaboration with Indonesia in areas of plant protection, epidemiology, biosecurity, diagnostic development, and germplasm evaluation is vital if we want to protect our Australian banana industry in the short term through effective biosecurity and in the long term through access to resistant germplasm.”
“Development of human capacity in the area of plant protection and working with, and mentoring of, young scientists in this area is one way to build long-term relationships,” he noted in his report to the Fund.
The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive:
“The advice given by Professor Drenth opened my eyes to what we should be doing to be successful.”
“I learned how to start writing a manuscript along a clear logical structure.”
”I learned many things on how to improve my presentation skills, how to prepare my presentation and how to connect with the audience.”
“I gained an understanding of the factors contributing to success in science as well as in my personal life.”
“Professor Drenth gives simple easy to understand explanations based on experience.”
Other support from the Fund has enabled PhD student Jane Ray to travel to Costa Rica as part of a large program on emerging banana diseases funded by Horticulture Innovation Australia under the leadership of Professor Drenth, as reported earlier.