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This month we are profiling NPBDN member Andrew Manners, Principal Entomologist, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF).

How did you find yourself on this career path?

At uni I knew that I wanted to go into some area of biological sciences research. I started doing entomology courses and enjoyed them. They also had reasonable employment opportunities and pursued research in ecology and IPM through undergrad and PhD.

Towards the end of my PhD I started a casual job at what is now DAF (Qld), which became a proper entomology position a couple years later. After a departmental restructure I moved to a position at a different site where I was working in a diagnostic lab, doing more pathology work than anything else. Diagnostics across entomology and pathology came quite naturally to me and I started leading the lab a while later.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

My days can be quite variable depending on project work, diagnostic sample workload, and staff present. My days often include writing up diagnostic reports, reporting results back to clients, triaging samples received, completing project work, managing staff issues, and a growing body of administrative work associated with leading a team.

How long have you worked in this area?

I’ve worked as a diagnostician for 12 years and worked solely as an entomologist for about 10 years prior to that.

What roles have you held previously?

Between undergrad and honours I worked in cotton research at Narrabri, NSW. Before I received my PhD I worked as a research assistant at the University of Queensland in the area of weed biocontrol. As I was at the tail end of completing my PhD I had a casual job with DAF rearing insects for trial work on entomopathogenic fungi. I managed to nab an EOI in Biosecurity Queensland in surveillance policy and discovered this was not an area of interest to me. I transferred to a real IPM research role after a relatively short period and the rest is history as they say.

What training/education have you received?

BSc (entomology/ecology), Honours in entomology, PhD in entomology. Three weeks of mite diagnostic training at Ohio State University followed by more training with spider mites specifically at the Queensland Museum a few years later (these were residentials). A great deal of on-the-job training as each sample received can be a journey in and of themselves.

What is your most memorable career achievement?

Building a team of staff of who I’m proud to have as colleagues; it makes the hard slog infinitely easier.

What advice would you give anyone starting or changing their career?

Love it or choose a different career. Life is too short.

Andrew triaging plants.
Andrew presenting at a production nursery farm walk.