A total of $230,000 in grants has been awarded to 11 young scientists and researchers in Australia’s primary production sector at the latest Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
The annual awards, announced at the ABARES Outlook conference dinner in March, recognise “big ideas from young rural innovators”.
Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce said he’d been impressed by the diversity of the winning projects, which ranged from investigating magnesium supplementation as a means of increasing growth rates in cattle to exploring the use of the biogas from pig manure as fuel for farm vehicles.
This year, top gong went to Dr Emily Remnant, originally from Wangaratta, Victoria, who received the prestigious Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Award and a total of $22,000 in funding for her project ‘Can we immunise honey bees against virulent viruses?’
“As colony collapses are devastating honeybee populations in other parts of the world, Emily’s research couldn’t come at a more important time to protect populations here in Australia,” Minister Anne Ruston said on presenting the Award.
“This ground-breaking research is vital to our horticulture industries that rely on bee colonies for pollination. Conservative estimates put the value of pollination for Australia's fruit, vegetable and seed production at four to six billion dollars.”
According to Dr Remnant, symbiotic bacteria Wolbachia Pipientis has already been shown to grant resistance against viruses to flies and stop mosquitoes from transmitting dengue fever.
“This bacteria helps other insects fighting viruses but it hasn't been examined in honeybees yet. So I'll test the bacteria in bees and see if it helps them survive damaging viruses,” Dr Remnant told guests at the ABARES Outlook dinner.
“It is innovative because it’s using a natural chemical to prevent the viruses themselves,” she said.
2017’s Industry Award-winners
- Clare Anstead, recipient of the Australian Wool Innovation Award;
- Caitlin Byrt, recipient of the Grains Research and Development Corporation Award;
- Alison Carey, recipient of the Dairy Australia Award;
- Benjamin Holman, recipient of the Australian Meat Processor Corporation Award;
- Priscilla Johnston, recipient of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation Award;
- Natoiya Lloyd, recipient of the Wine Australia Award;
- Kate Loudon, recipient of the Meat & Livestock Australia Award;
- Kym Patison, recipient of the CSIRO Health and Biosecurity Award;
- Kevin Rassool, recipient of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation Award;
- Emily Remnant, recipient of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation Award; and
- Stephan Tait, recipient of the Australian Pork Limited Award.
Read about the National Science and Innovation Award winners’ projects.
Each Science and Innovation Award winner is granted $11,000 in funding over 12 months to undertake a project of their choice pertaining to an emerging scientific issue or innovative activity. The recipient of the Minister’s Award receives an additional $11,000 to undertake an extended research project.
“The annual awards and grant program is designed to support and celebrate young people working or studying in an agriculture, fisheries or forestry-related industry, to encourage industry innovation, and to help advance the careers of future agriculture leaders,” said Minister Joyce.
Already, the Science and Innovation Awards have helped more than 210 young Australians turn their ag-related ideas into realities, showcasing their talents and ingenuity to Australia and the world.