2015 Award Recipients

​​​​​​​​​​​The 2015 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry are coordinated by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture.​

ABARES wishes to thank the panel of judges for their contribution to the 2015 Awards program.

For more information about the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and other activities and publications undertaken by ABARES, please visit  the ABARES website.

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From the Chief Scientist

I am delighted to present to you this year’s recipients of the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Their commitment and contribution to the continued success and sustainability of our agricultural industries is profiled in the coming pages. I invite you to read about their projects.

One theme you may notice from this year’s recipients is their desire and commitment to work with growers and producers - to take their research from the lab and out onto farms and into fisheries and vineyards. Their projects aim to help growers and producers operate more competitively and effectively through a focus on reducing the challenges for agriculture – weeds and wild dogs, feeding regimes and animal welfare, consumer appeal and cost to name but a few.

There is now a cohort of more than 200 Science and Innovation Award recipients, including the 2015 recipients, since the Awards commenced in 2001. This ongoing commitment to science and innovation, in partnership with our Award partners, reflects the broader commitment of the Department of Agriculture where science underpins much of the work we do.

Science is integral to our work in the department. It supports our evidence-based policy development, decision-making and service delivery and helps produce advice that is timely, credible, robust and outcome-driven.

And science, as demonstrated in these Award projects, assists our primary industries to be productive and sustainable now and into the future.

I encourage you to read about each of the recipients and their projects. I ask you to share their story with your colleagues and help develop these young researchers, innovators and early career scientists who are demonstrating innovation and commitment to our agricultural sector.

Congratulations to our 2015 recipients of the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Dr Kim Ritman Chief Scientist

About the awards

Each year the Department of Agriculture, in partnership with our Award sponsors, presents the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. The Awards are a competitive grants program that provides funding for innovative research projects to benefit Australia’s agricultural industries.

The Awards attract applications from young Australians 18 to 35 years – scientists, researchers, innovators – whose projects demonstrate a fresh way of thinking about, and resolving issues for, agriculture.

The Awards aim to

  • assist primary producers to develop more competitive, productive and self reliant industries through attracting innovative research proposals that will lead to longer term innovation in the secto
  • advance the careers of young scientists, researchers and innovators aged 18–35 years through national recognition and funding of their research ideas
  • encourage the uptake of science, innovation and technology in rural industries
  • increase interaction between the recipients, the Award partners, the tertiary and government sectors.

In 2015 there were 12 Award categories open to applicants, including biosecurity, cotton, dairy, fisheries and aquaculture, grains, horticulture, meat and livestock, new and emerging rural industries, pork, red meat processing, viticulture and oenology, and wool. Each Award category is generously supported by the leading research and development corporations and industry organisations.

Recipients of the Awards receive grant funding to pursue their research project and share their results with industry, their Award partner and the Department of Agriculture. Recipients can build strong networks across their industry while gaining national and international exposure for their work by presenting at conferences and seminars, and through publishing papers.

The successful category Award recipients are then invited to apply for additional funding for an extended research project - the Minister for Agriculture’s Award.

From a competitive field of applications drawn from across Australia, here are the recipients of the 2015 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Nadine Chapman - Recipient of the CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship Award

Nadine Chapman’s research is focussed on protecting Australian honeybee stocks from a potentially catastrophic outbreak of Varroa destructor mite, improving food security for the entire nation.

The Varroa mite weakens bees by sucking their blood and spreading viruses, and has devastated colonies around the world.

Australia is currently the only country free from the parasite but experts believe its eventual introduction here is almost a certainty.

And it’s not just beekeepers who are worried.

It is estimated that between $4 billion to $6 billion worth of agricultural and horticultural crops in Australia benefit from honeybee pollination.

Australia’s bees are very susceptible to Varroa but the importation of Varroa-resistant bees and semen is prohibited from many countries because of fears it could lead to the introduction of aggressive Africanized, or ‘killer’, bees to the country.

Nadine has created a genetic test for Africanized bees, which could be used to import Varroa-resistant insects while ensuring the Africanized bees are not brought into Australia.

Now, she plans to make the test more affordable and hopes to work with our department and the United States Department of Agriculture to develop a protocol for the importation of resistant bees.

Nadine says if Varroa mites were accidently introduced to Australia today, they would likely decimate our bee stocks within a couple of years.

She hopes that the safe importation of resistant bees from the United States can give the honeybee industry a better chance.

“We’re thinking of it like an inoculation,” Nadine says.

“If we can get some of that genetic resistance, hopefully we won’t get hit as hard as other countries that didn’t really have the time to prepare.”

CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship

With increasing global trade and interconnectedness, Australia is facing a greater challenge in protecting itself against biosecurity threats. Diseases, pests, invasive animals and plants can inflict damage to our crops, livestock and farm profits, to our unique environment and occasionally on our human health.

The CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship assembles strong multi-disciplinary research teams, spanning the areas of animal, plant and environmental sciences, focused on tackling these major national and international biosecurity challenges critical for Australia’s ongoing agricultural sustainability, environmental and human health.

We are working with government and industry to assist in responding quickly to stop threats in their tracks and provide sustainable management strategies. We are exploring new technologies for detection, surveillance, diagnosis and response and we will continue preparing for the next human pandemic.

Overall we aim for a biosecurity system that is pre-emptive, responsive, resilient, and based on cutting edge surveillance, informatics and new technologies for integrated response.


Dr Julie Culbert - Recipient of the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Award

When a bushfire goes through a wine region, the smoke can affect the flavour of

the grapes and cause a “taint” in the wine.

Wine loving chemist Dr Julie Culbert, from the University of Adelaide, believes her Science and Innovation Award grant project can help make the decision easier by using a supercomputer to model the molecular interactions between different types of fining agents and wine.

The Australian wine industry goes to great lengths to ensure the quality of their final product but taints can occur as a result of pests and diseases or contamination of winery equipment, often at a huge financial cost.

In 2006-07 alone, bushfires in Victoria were estimated to have cost that state’s wine producers around $100 million.

Julie hopes her modelling will allow winemakers to optimise the fining process by identifying substances that selectively remove the compounds responsible for different taints.

“It gives us the ability to screen fining agents against a whole range of different compounds, not only the undesirable compounds but the desirable ones as well,” she says.

Julie started in the wine industry 10 years ago and has been passionate about it ever since.

She works with some of Australia’s biggest wine producers in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale in South Australia and the Yarra Valley in Victoria.

“That’s what I really love about my job,“ Julie says.

“I really enjoy having that industry connection, getting the opportunity to meet the winemakers, speak with them and find out what their priorities are so we can work with them and have this mutually beneficial relationship.”

Australian Grape and Wine Authority

The Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) supports a competitive wine sector by investing in research, development and extension (RD&E), growing domestic and international markets and protecting the reputation of Australian wine.

AGWA brings together the RD&E activities of the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation and the market development and compliance activities of the Wine Australia Corporation in one new entity.

AGWA is funded by grapegrowers and winemakers through levies and export charges and the Australian Government, which provides matching funding for R&D investments.

AGWA is a Commonwealth statutory authority established under the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Act 2013 that commenced on 1 July 2014.


Dr Jean Drayton - Recipient of the Dairy Australia Award

A lifelong love of insects has prompted Dr Jean Drayton from the University of New England, to explore how dung beetles - and their crucial role in the dairy cattle industry - will be affected by climate change.

Dung beetles burying manure is hugely important to dairy cattle producers. The beetles’ activity decreases breeding sites for pest flies and parasites, aerates the soil and enables increased water penetration, returns nutrients to the ground and reduces forage fouling and nitrogen volatilization.

Dung beetles save the US cattle industry more than $450 million annually and are estimated to be worth millions of dollars a year to Australian producers in parasite control alone.

However, very few studies have looked at the impact of climate change on the beetles but those that have suggest dung beetles are likely to be significantly affected.

Jean’s Science and Innovation Award project will study dung beetles in climate-controlled chambers set to ambient temperature, and 3°C and 6°C above ambient temperature.

By measuring the rate of dung deposition at different temperatures, Jean hopes to identify species that do well in the heat and see if species-rich beetle communities will fare better than species-poor communities under climate change.

Jean grew up on a cattle and wine property in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.

She started her first insect collection at the age of nine but didn’t think to notice the dung beetles on her family’s property until she did work experience while at university.

“They just blew my mind,” Jean says. “I could sit there and watch dung beetles for hours, and sometimes I do.”

“I find it incredible that they are living, breathing creatures, they interact with their environment, they interact with each other. Insect behaviour fascinates me.”

Now, Jean hopes her project will deliver tangible and practical management solutions to maintain the valuable ecosystem service that dung beetles will provide in a future warmed world.

Dairy Australia

Dairy is one of Australia’s leading rural industries, with a $3.7 billion annual farmgate value and an estimated wholesale value of $13 billion.

The Australian dairy industry is recognised for its excellence in innovation, and has significantly increased its productivity through improved pasture, feed, herd management and efficiency gains in manufacturing, distribution and exports. The industry encourages and nurtures young innovators and offers them exciting careers prospects.

The Science and Innovation Award and Dairy Australia’s Scholarship programs are two examples of Dairy Australia’s commitment to building industry capability by helping propel promising and innovative individuals into rewarding dairy careers.

Dairy Australia is the industry-owned national service body, investing in essential research, development, extension and industry services across the dairy supply chain to attain the best outcomes for farmers, the dairy industry and the broader community. This investment helps support and build a sustainable and internationally competitive industry.


Dr Greg Falzon - Recipient of the Australian Wool Innovation Limited Award

When Greg Falzon left his family’s farm in regional New South Wales to work in computer science, he never imagined he would end up returning to combat a problem that had plagued his parents’ property—wild dogs.

Wild dog attacks cost tens of millions of dollars every year in lost stock and have a serious impact on quality of life for both farmers and their animals.

Greg hopes to create an early warning system known as Electronic Shepherd to help pastoralists protect their flock from attacks.

The device will work by monitoring sounds in the environment and analysing them with advanced computer software to detect dog barks or noises associated with sheep in distress.

The system will then alert farmers to a possible attack with a text message, or by radio link in areas without mobile phone reception.

Wild dog attacks cost $24 million a year in lost revenue in the wool industry, $27 million a year in the beef industry and a further $1 million annually in the lamb industry.

For Greg, his passion to solve the problem comes from personal experience.

“I grew up on our family farm experiencing and understanding the trouble with wild dogs,” he says.

“I’ve watched them run our horses through fences… I had my own flock of sheep and went out there one morning and found that a dog had come through and taken out the whole flock.

“I even had one of the dogs go at me as well.”

Greg developed another system called Wild Dog Alert , which uses motion activated cameras to detect wild dogs in an area, on his weekends with borrowed equipment and donated data.

Now he says the Science and Innovation Award will give him the resources he needs to make Electronic Shepherd a reality too.

Excitingly, the research is not confined to sheep welfare and could have a host of other agricultural applications.

“It could, for instance, be used in an orchard to detect a flock of birds or to monitor cattle for stock theft or stress levels during handling events,” Greg says.

Australian Wool Innovation Limited

Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI) is the research, development and marketing (RD&M) organisation for the Australian wool industry.

AWI is responsible for managing and investing levy funds received from over 27,000 levy payers and matching eligible research and development (R&D) contributions from the Australian government.

AWI invests in RD&M across the supply chain to enhance the profitability, international competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian wool industry, and to increase the demand and market access for Australian wool.


Dr Alice Hayward - Recipient of the Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited Award

Dr Alice Hayward, who works at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation at The University of Queensland, is set to make a quantum leap forward in avocado research when she uses her Science and Innovation Award grant to sequence the avocado genome.

Her project will result in the world’s only publicly available draft genome for the plant and is the first step towards the next-generation of crop improvement, including being able to select avocados for resistance to the devastating root rot fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi.

Phytophthora costs the Australian avocado industry more than $10 million a year in disease management and chemical prevention alone, and has in the past wiped out more than half the country’s avocado crop.

Alice, who developed a love of biology growing up in remote jungle regions of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, says Phytophthora is a huge problem in Australia and a major issue for growers.

She says while researchers are already trying to discover genes associated with disease resistance in avocados, this work is much more difficult without the genome sequence.

“It makes it really hard to do downstream things like look at gene expression,” she says.

“To see how active genes are under certain treatments, for example when you have the pathogen present, it can be useful to determine if a candidate gene is increasing its activity or not. All this requires the gene sequence.

Even having the sequence in fragmented stages is going to be groundbreaking for molecular avocado work, so I’m really excited.”

Alice also works closely with avocado growers in Western Australia and New South Wales and speaks to them most months about how her work and research is helping the industry.

“When you’re a scientist it’s easy to get stuck in the lab and get so excited about little things,” she says.

“It’s great to talk to growers and find out what happens in the real world to grow a crop and what’s actually important. I learn a lot from them.”

Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited

Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (HIA) is a not-for-profit, grower-owned research and development corporation for Australia’s $9.5 billion horticulture industry. HIA invests more than $100 million in research, development and marketing programs annually that provide benefit to industry and the wider community.

Key functions of HIA include:

  • providing leadership to, and promoting the development of, the Australian horticulture sector
  • increasing the productivity, farm gate profitability and global competitiveness of the horticultural industries by investing grower levies and government funds in research, development, extension and marketing funds, programs; and services and providing information, services and products related to project outcomes
  • promoting the interests of horticultural industries overseas including the export of Australian horticultural products.


Dr Sonia Liu - Recipient of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Award

Sonia Liu hopes her research will help to design broiler diets that improve feed conversion efficiency with improved animal welfare outcomes for the Australian chicken meat industry. Her project also has the potential to deliver financial benefits to the industry.

Sonia’s Science and Innovation Award project will determine the importance of the dynamics of starch and protein digestion in broiler chickens under ad libitum and restricted feeding regimens.

“It means we will be able to balance diets for chickens to help them absorb nutrients and gain weight more efficiently,” Sonia explains.

Her project will also investigate the possibility of including more cost effective ingredients like lupin, chickpeas and meat and bone meal in broiler diets - resulting in cost savings for the poultry industry.

“We would like broiler chickens to grow as efficiently and healthily as possible,” Sonia says.

However, farmers don’t want all broiler chickens to grow quickly. In the breeding animals it is actually beneficial to slow down their growth.

“At the moment, broiler breeders are fed once every day because the daily energy intake and body weight of broiler breeder needs to be closely monitored—otherwise they stop laying eggs,” Sonia explains.

Sonia says that with animals continually selected for an optimal growth rate, the broiler breeders are likely to need more energy and food in the future.

“If we continue feeding them once every day there might be some animal welfare issues such as hunger,” she says.

“So if I can formulate a diet with an unbalanced digestion rate, using more cost effective ingredients, the feed will be used less efficiently and broiler breeders may be fed multiple times every day.”

The research could also be applicable for other monogastric animals including pigs and laying hens.

Sonia grew up in China and studied pharmaceutical engineering at the Beijing Institute of Technology, where she developed an interest in physiology and human nutrition before moving into animal nutrition.

She says the most exciting thing about her research is having lots of industry support.

“If we have industry-transferrable ideas, people appreciate you and people are willing to invest in your ideas.”

Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) invests in research and development that will create the knowledge to support a more profitable, sustainable and dynamic rural sector. This includes research and development into Australia’s new rural industries which focuses on providing the knowledge for diversification in Australia’s rural industries.

RIRDC invites applications from young people that will further our knowledge and understanding of innovations that could contribute to the growth and development of Australia’s new and developing industries.


Tracy Muller - Recipient of the Australian Pork Limited Award

Tracy Muller, a research associate with CHM Alliance in Queensland, hopes her research into the diet of young female pigs will help reduce premature culling due to lameness.

Tracy’s project is set to compare the uptake of trace minerals fed to pigs in organic and inorganic form, and the impact this has on hoof hardness.

If organic minerals are shown to be more readily available to the animals it could pave the way for feed regimes to reduce lameness—a major cause of lost productivity for the pork industry.

Tracy says lameness, affecting roughly one in thirty animals, is one of the main contributors to culling young pigs.

“Lameness in the herd is a big problem and a big cost,” she says.

“There are feed products that are marketed with organic minerals and say they’re more beneficial to foot health, so we’re having a look to see if that’s true.”

Tracy will study the uptake of zinc and manganese in pigs fed the minerals in organic form by analysing their hair - a technique usually reserved for forensic scientists looking at nutritional deficiencies in humans.

She will also analyse the uptake of zinc and manganese in the hooves of the animals, and the overall impact on hoof hardness.

If successful, the research could enhance the competitiveness of the Australian pork industry and improve pig welfare at the same time.

Tracy grew up in Toowoomba, Queensland, and worked in veterinary practice before travelling overseas.

She has always enjoyed working with livestock but it was a stint at a swine research facility in Canada that confirmed her interest and future career plans working with pigs.

Australian Pork Limited

Australian Pork Limited (APL) is the national representative body for Australian pork producers. APL is a producer-owned not-for-profit company delivering integrated services that enhance the viability of Australia’s pork producers.

APL delivers integrated marketing, innovation and policy services through the pork supply chain, in association with key industry and government stakeholders, and aims to address five core objectives: Growing Consumer Appeal, Building Markets, Driving Value Chain Integrity, Leading Sustainability, and Improving Capability.

APL is primarily funded through statutory pig slaughter levies with additional research-specific funds provided by the Australian government. All levy paying producers are entitled to free membership of APL and those who aren’t required to pay levies can apply for associate membership.

APL’s headquarters are in Barton, Canberra with state-based marketing managers and other regionally based staff located in Sydney, Melbourne and Bendigo.


Aaron Preston - Recipient of the Grains Research and Development Corporation Award

Aaron Preston hopes his Science and Innovation Award project can reduce the time it takes to identify herbicide resistance in significant agricultural weeds from as long as nine months to just three weeks.

The Charles Sturt University graduate is developing a genetic test for herbicide resistance in wild oats, one of the world’s most widespread and persistent weed groups and the second most economically damaging weed in winter cropping in Australia.

“Herbicides are our most effective tool for controlling weeds but overuse of herbicides has reduced their efficacy. Currently, identification of herbicide resistance can take up to nine months, limiting timely remediation of the problem,” Aaron explains.

Australian farmers spend about $1.5 billion a year controlling weeds, including more than $60 million on wild oats.

“Wild oats breed quite fast, they’re highly competitive and they put out a lot of seeds so if even one plant survives there’s going to be hundreds of them next year,” Aaron says.

“If it’s left to get out of control it can cause up to a 80 per cent reduction in total yields.”

The weed has developed resistance to many herbicides, making it difficult for farmers to know which control methods are useful.

Aaron’s project will compare the DNA of plants known to be resistant to herbicides with those known to be susceptible to herbicides.

“It works by breaking down the DNA into fragments and comparing which fragments keep turning up in the resistant plants and which keep showing up in the susceptible plants,” he says.

“Once you identify which fragments are linked to a trait, you can create a very simple test where you get the DNA from a plant, you break up its DNA and you see whether it’s got those fragments.”

Aaron says the most exciting thing about his research is getting to work on real problems, with real economic impacts, that affect real people.

“If you can solve even a smallest part of these problems you’re actually having a real world impact, you’re helping people and you’re making their livelihoods easier,” he says.

Grains Research and Development Corporation

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is one of the world’s leading investors in grains research, development and extension (RD&E). The GRDC invests over $150 million per annum across a broad range of research areas – from molecular biology to farming systems. Within their carefully balanced portfolio is a range of investments, from long-term, high risk, ‘blue sky’ research to short-term, outcome-focused applied research at the local level. The Grains Research and Development Corporation is responsible for planning and investing in RD&E to support effective competition by Australian grain growers in global markets, through enhanced profitability and sustainability.

GRDC is working to ensure Australian grain growers have:

  • better practices developed faster
  • access to superior varieties that enable them to effectively compete in global markets
  • new products and services (both on and off farm) to assist growers to effectively compete in global grain markets
  • the awareness and capacity to optimise adoption of grains research outputs.


Dr Sarah Stewart - Recipient of the Meat & Livestock Australia Award

Sarah Stewart’s Science and Innovation Award project aims to boost meat quality and yields in lambs while improving the animals’ wellbeing at the same time.

The qualified vet from Murdoch University in Western Australia says current industry practice is for lambs to undergo a period of feed restriction before slaughter, which can be up to 48 hours.

Because modern lambs are selected to be lean and muscular, no one really knows what effect this has on their ability to handle feed restriction and stress.

Recent research suggests lambs experience significant fat metabolism in the lead up to slaughter but it is unclear whether this is due to feed restriction or the stress associated with pre-slaughter management.

“We essentially want to find out how feed deprivation affects the metabolism of these animals under commercial pre-slaughter conditions,” Sarah says.

“We’re using that information to then look at links between feed deprivation and meat quality and yield.”

Sarah will use blood samples to analyse the metabolic response of 80 lambs after 12, 24, 36 and 48 hours without food under controlled and commercial conditions.

Her project is designed to separate the effects of feed restriction from the effects of stress and will be the first study to assess the impact that selection for leanness and muscle has on the metabolic response to pre-slaughter feed deprivation.

Sarah, who has previously worked in vet practice with dairy cattle, says she hopes the research will inform and update commercial pre-slaughter timeframes in order to deliver a high quality product to consumers and improved yield for producers.

“I grew up in Adelaide and moved to Perth to study Veterinary Science at Murdoch University. It was at Murdoch that I developed a passion for livestock production and a keen interest in meat science.”

Sarah worked for several years as a cattle veterinarian in Victoria then returned to start a PhD at Murdoch University, focusing her research on the impact of pre-slaughter stress on the meat quality and yield of prime lambs.

“Industry issues are a big thing for me,” she says.

“Making sure that this is relevant to industry is really important and that’s why we’re doing it.”

Meat & Livestock Australia Limited

Meat & Livestock Australia Limited (MLA) is a producer–owned company with more than 49,000 members working across the beef, sheepmeat and goatmeat sectors.

MLA builds demand and productivity for Australia’s livestock industry by delivering marketing and research services that create opportunities for livestock producers.

As part of work to build productivity, we invest industry levies with matching Australian Government funding in a broad range of research and development throughout the red meat supply chain.


Jessica Tan - Recipient of the Australian Meat Processor Corporation Award

Jessica Tan’s Science and Innovation Award grant project is set to further enhance the reputation of Australian beef overseas while delivering public health benefits.

Jessica will map the presence of E. coli contamination on Australian beef carcases to identify hot spots where the bacteria are more likely to be found.

Little is known about the deposition and distribution of E. coli on a beef carcase and so the objective is to map the presence of E. coli on beef carcases in order to provide information and data in this current knowledge gap.

Jessica, who works in the Food Safety and Innovation research program at the South Australian Research and Development Institute, hopes her research will help to improve processes and reduce the chance of serious illness or even death as a result of E. coli contamination and boost the reputation of our beef as a premium product.

E. coli is commonly found in faecal matter and contamination of beef carcases usually occurs in the slaughter process, Jessica says.

“During the slaughter process, contamination can occur through poor handling and hygiene after hide removal, for example, or by cross-contamination from knives or carcases bumping against each other on the chain,” she explains.

Export beef producers currently swab carcases at sites on the brisket, flank and rump of the animal.

These locations are based on regulations from the 1990s and Jessica says changes in meat processing techniques might call for changes in microbiological testing sites.

“It might be, with different technologies that are coming in, that the locations we are swabbing might change,” she says.

E. coli contamination represents a huge cost to the Australian beef export industry.

Since June 2012, there have been at least 691 potential detections of shiga toxin producing E. coli—a group of E. coli that can result in severe illness such as haemolytic-uremic syndrome—with an estimated cost of between $1.4 million and $1.7 million purely to confirm the presence of the bacteria with further tests.

Armed with Jessica’s map and approach, producers will have additional information to not only make informed decisions about the best place to test for bacteria but also to minimise the risk of E. coli contamination in the first place.

“It’s giving another level of information and from that information, Australian beef producers can develop ways to target and then reduce E. coli contamination,” Jessica says.

Australian Meat Processor Corporation

The Australian Meat Processor Corporation (AMPC) is the Rural Research and Development Corporation that supports the red meat processing industry throughout Australia. AMPC’s mandate is to provide research, development and extension (RD&E) services that improve the sustainability and efficiency of the sector.

Red meat processor levies are strategically invested in research, development and extension programs that are aligned to targeted marketing initiatives. These programs deliver outcomes and benefits for both the Australian red meat processing industry and the broader Australian community.

AMPC supports projects in technology and processing, environment and sustainability, food safety, product integrity and meat science, and market access.

Project topics for future applicants would relate to the following areas, focusing on the red meat processing industry:

  • Investigating factors towards enhancing meat quality and product integrity (including eating quality and food safety) • Investigating options for enhancing sustainability, including environment, waste, energy and water management and efficiency
  • Innovative new technologies that improve meat processing processes and efficiency
  • Supply chain management and market access, including integrated supply chain approaches and value adding to products
  • Livestock management, including animal health, welfare and biosecurity at the processing establishment.


Dr Emma Wilkie - Recipient of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Award

What do you look for when you shop for oysters? Plump meat sitting in a beautiful cupped shell?

Emma Wilkie is researching how to farm prize-winning Sydney rock oysters so they sit on the plate in the shape most sought after by restaurants and processors.

Emma says perfect oysters have a 3:2:1 ratio, where three is the oyster’s length, two is the width and one is the depth.

“With this shell ratio, they’re cuppy rather than flat… this adds value to their marketability in terms of awards and how they look and present on a plate,” she says.

Emma, who works for industry-owned Select Oyster Company, says farmed oysters have been selectively bred for disease resistance and rapid growth but sometimes grow flatter than their wild counterparts.

She plans to use the Science and Innovation Award to develop husbandry guidelines for the $30 million a year Sydney rock oyster industry.

“A lot of oyster farmers have said to me ‘we love this product, we want to keep using the fast-growing oyster, however we need some way of handling it that improves its shape to get maximum benefit out of the fast growth,” Emma says.

“That’s what I will investigate, the husbandry techniques to obtain a good shape and a marketable shape.”

Emma grew up in the Blue Mountains where she developed a passion for conservation and the environment, but it wasn’t until she attended university that she fell in love with marine science.

Her Science and Innovation Award project will include comprehensive best practice instructions, a cost-benefit analysis of each husbandry technique, access to seed for farmers, photos and a DVD.

Fisheries Research and Development Corporation

The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) and its stakeholders are focused on what the Corporation has adopted as its vision: a vibrant Australian fishing and aquaculture industry, adopting world–class research to achieve prosperity and to wisely use the natural resources on which it depends. “Prosperity” in this sense encompasses not only the financial wellbeing of the commercial sector but also the many social and environmental values related to the commercial, recreational and Indigenous customary sectors.

The FRDC recognises that it is vitally important to support young people to develop the knowledge and capabilities to assist the fishing industry to reach its potential. The fishing industry faces significant challenges, but it also provides enormous opportunities to build a rewarding career. The person we are looking for to receive an FRDC sponsored award will have a great idea, will be a great role model for young people to further their interest in science, and be keen to use this opportunity to build their networks with other researchers, the FRDC and with industry.


Other format​

Last reviewed:
20 Sep 2017