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Waite In the Spotlight 2016

Jul 29, 2016, 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm


This is a shared Waite Campus event featuring TEDx-style talks celebrating the diversity of research at the Waite and exploring how microbes can transform the future of Agriculture. Called ‘Waite in the Spotlight’, this event will feature selected talks from a range of disciplines and by speakers from across the Campus partners to showcase our work and some of our people to the world via YouTube and this website.

The talks at this inaugural event will be short, each focussed on a single topic or idea springing from agriculture, food, wine and environmental science and designed to be thought-provoking and interesting to a non-scientific audience. Delivered with clarity and enthusiasm, we hope they will provide an effective medium for increasing public awareness and understanding of the Waite, and why the work we do here matters.

Featured speakers:

  • Dr Anthony Borneman, Australian Wine Research Institute – A tale of shipwrecks, yeast and beer
  • Dr Laura Davies, CSIRO Agriculture – Plant parasites: Let the battle commence
  • Dr Gupta Vadakattu, CSIRO Agriculture – Microbial diversity – can it feed the world?
  • Dr Caitlin Byrt, The University of Adelaide – Biology is the naughty science; try it!

Our special guest speaker will be Professor Göran Roos, Economic Development Board consultant – Food and agriculture to grow the economy.
Dr Melanie Bagg from the Australian Science Media Centre will be our MC.



Waite in the Spotlight is a free public event, however we ask that you register to assist us with catering, venue and capacity arrangements. Refreshments and a cash bar will be available.
Register online at: https://waiteinthespotlight.eventbrite.com


Speaker profiles


Caitlin Byrt

Dr Caitlin Byrt

Caitlin Byrt studies the biology of plant traits that influence the quality and quantity of crop yields. As an ‘early career’ fellow of the Australian Research Council, Caitlin is part of a team who has identified a gene and marker that led to an improvement in durum wheat grain yield in the field by 25% in saline conditions, work that has international applications in 18 countries. Caitlin’s research interests are focussed on plant salinity tolerance, membrane biology, cell wall biology and carbon partitioning.

Laura Davies

Dr Laura Davies

Laura’s love of parasites started with a PhD at the University of Leeds, UK where she worked on plant-parasitic nematodes and plant hormones. Laura then moved to Washington State University, USA for two years to research the defence interactions between root-knot nematodes and potatoes. Laura has been based in Wine Innovation West here at Waite for the past 18 months, characterising interactions between the fungal parasite Eryisphe necator, which causes powdery mildew disease, and grapevine.

Professor Göran Roos

Göran Roos is a member of the Economic Development Board of South Australia and the advisory board for Investment Attraction South Australia. He is a Stretton Fellow appointed by the City of Playford at University of Adelaide; Adjunct Professor at Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre, University of Adelaide; Adjunct Professor at University of Technology Sydney Business School; and Adjunct Associate Professor in the College of Business, Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Göran is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA).

Dr Anthony Borneman

A big focus of Anthony’s research is on yeasts and bacteria – both vital in producing the wines and beers that millions of Australians enjoy. As Principal Research Scientist at the Australian Wine Research Institute, Anthony’s research is focused on applying genomics, systems- and synthetic-biology to understand the genetic basis of phenotypic diversity in ‘industrial microorganisms’ – the little agents of change in Australia’s wine and grape sector.

Gupta Vadakattu

Dr Gupta Vadakattu

Gupta is one researcher who loves getting his hands dirty. His renowned research into genetic diversity, function and resilience of soil microbes has important implications for sustainable production worldwide. Research findings have improved our understanding of environmental health and potential solutions to food scarcity in developing countries, including India where agricultural field trials are delivering impressive results. Gupta’s outstanding contribution to soil science in Australia was recognised by the 2015 Prescott Medal.


Dr Melanie Bagg

Melanie has a research PhD in Medicine and over 10 years experience in science communication, marketing management, business development and education outreach. For over 7 years, she was responsible for promoting the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine and got to know and love the Waite Campus. Melanie helped create and was inaugural editor of e-Science magazine. She also spent over five years working closely with the SA Advertiser on specialist science print publications and a weekly “Can you believe it?” column. Currently Melanie is a regular on ABC891 live talk back radio.


Lirra Lirra
McLeod House, University of Adelaide Waite Campus
Urrbrae, SA 5064 Australia
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