Sheep CRC has success with grad scientists

SHEEP industry researchers have been named as solid performers at the annual Cooperative Research Centre Postgraduate Conference held in Coffs Harbour last week.

The annual conference brings together the next generation of young agricultural scientists, all supported in their industry-focused PhD studies by the Sheep, Beef and Pork CRCs and Meat & Livestock Australia.

CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) Project Leader for Post-graduate Training Dr Graham Gardner said the conference was a unique opportunity for agricultural researchers of the future to exchange ideas with a panel of Australia’s leading scientists, as well as peers from related industries.

“It’s essential to support the training of the next generation of agricultural scientists, as we know that up to 50 per cent of our industry professionals are approaching retirement age,” Dr Gardner said.

“The conference aimed to develop scientific presentation skills at the highest level, as well as providing an opportunity for students to network and discuss ideas with leading scientists such as Professor Alan Bell, the Chief of CSIRO Livestock Industries, and Professor Frank Dunshea, the head of Agriculture and Food Systems at Melbourne University.

“The CRC postgraduate program develops industry-focused professionals. In the past, more than 70 per cent of our postgraduates have remained in the sheep and cattle industries and often in senior scientist positions.

“The postgraduate program has also been very effective in aligning students’ projects with the priority projects within each CRC, and therefore with the research priorities of industry,” Dr Gardner said.

The Sheep CRC is a collaboration of industry, government and the commercial sector, which is working to increase productivity and profitability of the industry through new technologies for adoption by both the meat and wool supply chains.

Sheep CRC supported students Fiona Anderson, based at the University of Western Australia, and Jessica Rickard, from Sydney University, stood out from the field of 30 students, taking home both awards for outstanding research presentations at the conference.

“The conference is an invaluable opportunity for students to see the relevance of our work in the industry and maintain our strong industry focus,” Ms Anderson said.

“I had the opportunity to present my work on the impact of current genetic selection methods on lean meat yield and the likely impact on producer profitability, to some of the most eminent scientists in my field and have them discuss and critique it.

“This conference is a great chance to mingle with other PhD students and hear first-hand of the research that is being undertaken in the sheep, cattle and pig industries.”

The CRC Third Year Review Panel identified the postgraduate program as world best-practice and recommended that the Sheep CRC develop a transition plan to ensure its continuation beyond the life of the CRCs.

A proposal is being developed for the continuation of the integrated postgraduate program for both the sheep and cattle industries.

The expert scientific panel is comprised of: Professor James Rowe (CEO Sheep CRC), Dr Heather Burrow (CEO Beef CRC), Professor Steve Walkden-Brown (Sheep CRC, University of New England), Professor Julius van der Werf (Sheep CRC, University of New England), Professor Dave Pethick (Sheep CRC, Murdoch University), Dr Andrew Thompson (Sheep CRC, DAFWA), Professor Alan Bell (Chief of CSIRO Livestock Industries), Professor Frank Dunshea (Head of Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, Melbourne University), Dr Alex Ball (Meat & Livestock Australia), Dr Ben Hayes (DPI Victoria).

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