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Awards highlight outstanding research

To recognise some of the outstanding research undertaken as part of the Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity, the Science Exchange Awards Dinner was held at Belvoir in the Swan Valley on 24 May 2012.

The formal awards night provided an opportunity for researchers and participants of the CRCNPB to acknowledge the work and achievements of their peers.

Participant Committee Chair, Martin Barlass, was master of ceremonies for the evening and enjoyed taking a look at the lighter side of plant biosecurity.

Chief Executive Officer Simon McKirdy presented a series of recognition awards to Program Leaders who had played a role in the CRCNPB and would not be continuing. These included Gary Kong, Deb Hailstones, Pat Collins, Darryl Hardie and Paul De Barro. Simon also recognised the achievement of Principal Scientist, James Ridsdill-Smith, who has been an integral part of the CRC since its inception.

After dinner Research Leader David Eagling was called on to the present the Science Committee Awards. David ran through each of the nominees before announcing the award winners in each category.

The winners were:

Science Committee Award for Science Impact – Alisha Anderson and the team for the biosensor-based detection of grain pests (CRC20081). Opportunities exist to apply new technologies to plant biosecurity. This research applied molecular approaches to identify biological detectors and signalling as the basis for a new approach to detect grain insects. It made a number of breakthroughs in the area of insect receptors and signalling, which are being used as proof of concept to drive the development of a new generation of biosensor devices. The project has published two papers in high impact journals and presented findings at three international symposia.

Other finalists for this award were:

  • David Schlipalius and the team for research on a molecular understanding of phosphine resistance (CRC20080)
  • Greg Daglish and the team for our understanding of grain insect ecology (CRC50089)

Science Committee Award for Biosecurity Impact - Brendan Rodoni and the team for the development of new tools that impact post entry quarantine (CRC40050). Post entry quarantine is a fundamental part of the fabric of plant biosecurity. This research developed advanced diagnostic methods and tools for the detection of plant viruses, which can be quickly applied to both import and export situations. This project was a trans-Tasman initiative and has generated significant interest and support from both industry and government. The research has been supported through the respective federal biosecurity structures with the potential to make significant impacts on the time and cost associated with quarantine processes.

Other finalists for this award were:

  • Manoj Nayak and the team for the impact on resistance management in the grains industry (CRC30065)
  • Sharyn Taylor and the team for the impact on delivery and adoption in the grains industry (CRC30009)

Science Committee Award for Collaboration - Greg Hopkins and the team for improving our ability to effectively apply phosphine (CRC50091). Phosphine underpins the grain industry’s capacity to trade. This project successfully brought together the practical skills of commercial grain protection managers and commercial manufacturers with the engineering and computer modelling abilities of scientists. With shared leadership between industry and CSIRO, the project made a number of recommendations for the application of phosphine which have been widely accepted and put into practice by industry.

Other finalists for this award were:

  • David Cook and the team for the communication of risk in plant biosecurity (CRC10162)
  • Tony Clarke and the team for our understanding of fruit fly (CRC20115)

Science Committee Award for Contribution to the CRC – Jo Luck. Jo led large and successful CRC projects and worked hard to promote and explain CRC work to a broader audience. She engaged with the CRC office, often undertaking extra work beyond her core projects. She dealt successfully with complex contractual and funding situations in a positive good-humoured manner. Jo also took a key role in the CRC rebid with her involvement in the development of the exemplar projects.

The other finalist for this award was:

  • David Cook

Other awards given out at the Science Exchange were:

Science Committee Award for Best Presentation – Mark Schutze. Mark’s presentation was titled ‘The resolution of species boundaries of four past members of the Bactrocera dorsails complex (Diptera: Tephritidae): a multidisciplinary approach’.

Board Directors Award for Best Poster – Philip Burrill. Philip’s poster was titled ‘Measuring working airflow of aeration fans’.

People’s Choice Award for Best Poster – Anna Rathe. Anna’s poster was titled ‘Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) and Xylella fastidiosa (Proteobacteria: Xanthomonadaceae): potential Australian invaders’.

Congratulations to each of the finalists and award winners.

Photos from the Science Exchange are available on Picasa Web Albums.

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