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SX celebrates seven successful years

In celebration of what the CRCNPB has achieved over the past seven years, it held its final Science Exchange (SX) at The Vines Resort in the Swan Valley, WA, from 23-25 May 2012.

The SX was the largest during the life of the CRCNPB, with 187 delegates attending from across Australia, New Zealand, the USA, China, Indonesia and Thailand.

The official SX program kicked off on the morning of 23 May, however prior to that a number of other meetings took place, including the Board, the Science Committee, the Participants Committee, a PhD field trip and signing of three MOUs with Chinese organisations.

The three Chinese organisations to sign MOU’s with the PBCRC were the Chinese Academy of Grain, the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine and Northwest University.

The SX officially began on the morning of Wednesday 23 May, with CRCNPB Chairman John Lovett and Chief Executive Officer Simon McKirdy welcoming guests to the Swan Valley. They also highlighted how the CRC has grown and developed throughout its seven year term.

Once John and Simon had opened the SX they called on Kathy Ophel-Keller to chair the opening session – Preparedness – which included six 15 minute presentations. Highlights from the session included David Cook reintroducing (and trying to kill off) the Jolly Apple Farmer and Kylie Ireland’s interesting talk which looked at science policy and management.

Sessions two and three featured diagnostics, with session two titled Diagnostics and session three Application of Diagnostics. Kim James (Horticulture Australia Limited) chaired Diagnostics and Kim Plummer (La Trobe University) Application of Diagnostics.

Of the 12 presentations on diagnostics, seven were by PhD students – which were all very well received by the audience – and also included the eventual winner of the Science Committee Award for Best Presentation, Mark Schutze.

The final presentation session on the first day was the first Surveillance session and was chaired by Paul De Barro from CSIRO.

The first official social function of the SX saw delegates dress in their finest frocks and sharpest shirts for a cocktail party, which also featured a poster session for the first hour. Delegates wandered through the 20 posters asking the authors questions about their posters while enjoying a selection of beverages and canapés.

Philip Burrill – from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Queensland – had a particularly interesting (and messy) poster, which included a demonstration of how aeration fans are used with stored grain.

The later part of the cocktail party saw a number of delegates hit the dance floor, which gave them an opportunity to show off their ‘moves’.

Day two saw a continuation of the Surveillance theme, with a further six presentations highlighting scientifically sound sampling tools and survey methodologies. The session was chaired by Jody Higgins from the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

On a shortened day, the only other two sessions were Impact Management – chaired by John Leslie (Kansas State University) – and Post-harvest – chaired by Ben White (University of Western Australia).

The late afternoon provided some down time, during which delegates were given the opportunity to have project meetings or enjoy the resorts facilities, with a number of people using the time to work off some of the delicious food at the gym, by playing golf or hitting the driving range.

Thursday night provided another opportunity for delegates to dress up, this time for the Science Exchange Awards Dinner. The Awards Dinner was held offsite at the Belvoir Function Centre. More information – including all the award winners – is available in a separate Science Exchange Awards Dinner article.

The final day of the SX had two sessions, Delivery and What’s next. David Teulon from Plant and Food Research New Zealand chaired Delivery and Emma Colson from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Queensland What’s next.

What’s next provided an insight as to what may lie ahead for plant biosecurity, with representatives from industry, government and international delegates providing their perspective.

John Lovett and Simon McKirdy provided closing remarks, in which they highlighted the need to start thinking about and acting on the legacy the CRCNPB and PBCRC will leave behind.

John also presented Philip Burrill with the Board Directors Award for Best Poster and Simon presented Anna Rathe with the People’s Choice Award for Best Poster and Mark Schuzte with the Science Committee Award for Best Presentation.

Simon finally closed the SX by thanking attendees for being involved with the CRCNPB throughout its seven year term and said he was looking forward to those partnerships continuing into the PBCRC.

We would like to thank everyone who completed an SX Evaluation Form – your feedback plays an important role in shaping future events. Congratulations to John Botha, who was drawn out randomly as the winner of a bottle of wine for completing the evaluation form.

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

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