Home' Partners : Partners: Australian research leaders Contents 24
ISSUE THREE 2015 PARTNERS
THE RAID ON THE NEXT GENERATION
Worldwide there is concern about the declining number of students enrolling in agriculture courses. An initiative
seeking to arrest this worrying trend was recently launched in Australia. Researchers in Agriculture for International
Development (RAID) is an Australian-based network that connects, engages and supports early to mid-career
Australian agricultural scientists to work in agricultural research for development.
A founding member of RAID, Jack Koci, explains: "We want to help address the decline in agricultural research
capability in Australia, by encouraging young agricultural scientists to expand their horizons and see the positive
contribution they can make in Australia and abroad."
A RAID website has been launched to share knowledge, resources and promote opportunities for employment,
further study and volunteer posts. RAID is also organising informal workshops to encourage capacity building. "We
want as much member input as possible---the success of the network really depends on the ideas, knowledge and
enthusiasm of our members," Mr Koci says.
MORE INFORMATION: www.raidaustralia.net
Dr Sam Periyannan was based in the CSIRO laboratories headed by Dr Evans Lagudah (above), who gained
his science degree from the University of Ghana prior to obtaining his PhD from the University of Melbourne.
gained a science degree from the University
of Ghana prior to obtaining his PhD from the
University of Melbourne.
As part of the Durable Rust Resistance in
Wheat project, Dr Periyannan developed a high-
resolution genetic map of the wheat genome and
identified DNA markers to three novel resistance
genes that are effective against Ug99. The genes
offer unprecedented opportunities to rebuild
commercial wheat's rust defences on a more
In 2013 he realised what was then the 'holy
grail' of rust resistance research: he isolated the
world's first stem rust resistance gene (Sr33) from
wheat's gargantuan genome.
It was a discovery that made headlines around
the world. Dr Periyannan was subsequently a
co-recipient of the Australian team's 2013 Gene
Stewardship Award, awarded internationally by the
Borlaug Global Rust Initiative. The Australian team
was commended for the collaborative spirit of its
research program and was selected for outstanding
achievements in 15 areas---a world-first scoop of all
prize categories. Among these was recognition for
highly effective training programs.
Additionally, Dr Periyannan was singled out
with several awards, including the Frank Fenner
Scholarship Award and the Young Scientist awards
from the Society of Applied Biotechnology, India.
He has since been appointed a postdoctoral
fellow to continue to isolate useful resistance
genes. In collaboration with Dr Brande Wulff's
team at the John Innes Centre in the UK,
advanced genetic tools are being used to rapidly
isolate resistance genes from cereals.
Most recently he was appointed adjunct fellow
and lecturer at the University of Queensland and
the University of Sydney for his collaborative
research and role in training postgraduate
students at the Queensland Alliance for
Agriculture and Food Innovation and the Plant
Breeding Institute, respectively.
"Something that really interests me now is to
further my ties with ACIAR to help train scientists,
introducing them to gene cloning technology and
how it can be applied to help farmers,"
Dr Periyannan says.
International scholarships are a vital tool in
building global capacity to meet food security
challenges and for maintaining agricultural
productivity and profitability. They accelerate the
scientific discovery phase and build capabilities
to mentor, train and inspire both scientists and
farmers, while enabling faster sharing of vital
As Dr Periyannan illustrates, it spurs a drive---
even a belief---in the ability of individuals to
make a difference and commit to working in this
Several decades worth of international
capacity building through international research
for development have changed the world
through the creation of public goods that flow
indiscriminately among rich and poor, developed
Having played a leadership role both
in creating the international system and in
administrating its subsequent evolution, Australia
is well and truly integrated in ways that are crucial
to Australian primary industries. n
ACIAR's John Dillon Memorial Fellowship provides
career development opportunities for outstanding
young agricultural scientists or economists from
ACIAR partner countries who are involved in a current
or recently completed ACIAR project. The fellowship
supports training that develops leadership skills
in agricultural research management, agricultural
policy or extension technologies through exposure to
Australian agriculture across a range of best-practice
organisations. Up to 10 fellowships are o ered
annually. Applications for the 2016 program are open
until 31 August 2015.
MORE INFORMATION: www.aciar.gov.au/training/JDF
ACIAR's John Allwright Fellowship (JAF) provides
the opportunity for partner country scientists involved
in ACIAR-supported collaborative research projects
to obtain postgraduate quali cations at Australian
tertiary institutions. The aim is to enhance research
capacity in ACIAR's partner country institutions.
MORE INFORMATION: www.aciar.gov.au/training/jaf
PHOTO: BRAD COLLIS
Something that really
interests me now is to further
my ties with ACIAR to help
train scientists, introducing
them to gene cloning
technology and how it can be
applied to help farmers.
-- Dr Sam Periyannan
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