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Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith

Topic: The Importance of diagnostics and surveillance in Australia’s national plant biosecurity system

Dr Gabrielle Vivian-Smith was appointed Chief Plant Protection Officer of Australia in 2021 after an extended period of acting in the role. She is Australia’s Delegate at the International Plant Protection Convention. Her work aims to protect Australia’s plant-based industries and the natural environment from harmful exotic plant pests and diseases. Such pests and diseases, if allowed to establish can permanently reduce the productivity of our land and damage our natural heritage.

Dr Vivian-Smith has worked in biosecurity for 20 years including managing complex, high profile biosecurity and scientific programs and portfolios in science, operational response and policy at state and national levels. Gabrielle was previously Victoria’s Chief Plant Health Officer from 2013 to 2017.  From 2001 to 2013 Gabrielle led various Queensland Government biosecurity programs in invasive species research, policy and operational programs. Gabrielle’s formal qualifications include a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons), a Graduate Diploma in Horticulture and a PhD in Ecology.

Dr Alexander N Schmidt-Lebuhn

Topic: Mobile identification and collection of observation records using computer vision in biosecurity and weed management

Alexander is a CSIRO researcher and Team Leader Plant Systematics and Population Genetics at the Australian National Herbarium in Canberra. His research interests include the systematics and evolution of flowering plants, especially the daisy family Asteraceae, and the application of image classification (AI) to species identification and collection science. He is currently working with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to build models for the identification of pest insects and weed seeds, working with the Centre of Invasive Species Solutions and the NSW Department of Primary Industries to create an identification and reporting app for weeds, and contributing to the Genomics for Australian Plants consortium.

Dr Kevin Thiele

Topic: A key data asset – the biodiversity knowledge graph for Australia 

Kevin Thiele is the Director of the Biodiversity Data Repository project at DCCEEW. He has a long background in biodiversity and biodiversity informatics, in part through a career as a plant taxonomist and Director for a decade of the Western Australian Herbarium, in part through the development of innovative diagnostic tools for biodiversity, and in part through his work at the Australian Academy of Science where he led the development of Discovering Biodiversity: A decadal plan for taxonomy and biosystematics in Australia and New Zealand 2018–2027 and served as the inaugural Director of Taxonomy Australia. Kevin has a strong interest in improving our understanding of biodiversity (both good and bad) and connecting that knowledge with real-world impacts.

Prof Geoff Grossel

Topic: National eDNA Testing Program

Geoff has a PhD in Molecular Medicine from UTAS and is currently the Director of Biosecurity Research at the DAFF Biosecurity Science Centre. For 2 months every year Geoff travels around the world for the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) evaluating Competent Authority Biosecurity Services. In his spare time Geoff engages with the Faculty of Science and Technology at the University of Canberra as an Adjunct Professor

John McDonald

Topic: Biosecure HACCP

John is Greenlife Industry Australia – National Biosecurity Manager. He has more than 35 years’ experience in production horticulture including mango, sugar and nursery production plus industry RD&E, policy and development. John developed the nationally approved BioSecure HACCP program and negotiated with states and territories to secure market access privileges for certified growers across Australia.  Currently managing the national levy funded Nursery Industry Biosecurity and Sustainable Plant Production program including plant protection, biosecurity response, preparedness and awareness, best management practice and the minor use pesticide program. As a part of the program John manages the national nursery production extension network with Extension Officers operating in all states and territories assisting grower best practice adoption and implantation.

Dr Nancy Schellhorn

Topic: Rapid Aim on Pest Precision, Management, Rapid Detection of Fruit Flies

Dr Schellhorn is co-founder and CEO of RapidAIM digital crop protection. RapidAIM’s on a mission to reduce the chemical intensity of agriculture by taking the guesswork out of pest management.Prior to launching RapidAIM Pty Ltd in 2018, Nancy was a Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO in Brisbane Australia where she led teams of scientist to use novel tools and technologies to solve traditional problems in agriculture. Nancy took the leap into the commercial realm to have greater impact with her science, to go beyond the pen and megaphone, and create the solution for change. Nancy has served on many national and international committees and advisory panels; has received many accolades and awards including the Chairman’s Medal (CSIRO’s top scientific achievement accolade) and has published extensively on sustainable approaches to managing pests in food and fibre crops with >1800 peer-reviewed citations.

Irene Kernot

Topic: Biosecurity Outreach and Engagement activities at ACIAR

Ms Irene Kernot is the Research Program Manager for Horticulture with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Before joining ACIAR in 2018, Irene started her career in 1978 as an agronomist with the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industries conducting research on field crops. Moving to north Queensland she joined the Department of Primary Industries in Queensland as an extension horticulturist in tropical fruits, also serving on the board of the Australian College of Tropical Agriculture. In 2003 Irene transferred to research management as the Director of Tropical Fruit and Value Chain Research Development and Extension with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. In that role Irene was involved in responses to Black Sigatoka, Papaya Fruit Fly and Panama Tropical Race 4, supporting both the regulatory and research response. In ACIAR Irene develops collaborative research between Australia and our partner countries in the Pacific, South and Southeast Asia as well as Africa.

Dr Jo Luck 

Mentor: Plant Health Student Network

Dr Jo Luck is an Australian scientist with more than 25 years’ experience in plant disease, biosecurity and microbiology and the Director of Plant Biosecurity Research Initiative (PBRI). Dr Luck is the former research director at Plant Biosecurity Co-operative Research Centre. Before that, she was the principal research scientist of microbiology at the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, and performed roles at NSW Agriculture, NSW Fisheries and La Trobe University.