Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre education program – national capacity building

J. Luck, R. Wallace
A recent survey (Howie, 2012), commissioned by the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (PBCRC) on the national plant biosecurity capability status, showed a steady decline in researchers employed in plant biosecurity over the last six years. This study was supported by the Pratley report (2013) which reviewed agricultural education and training in response to the shortage of young people choosing agriculture as a career. The demographic of the plant biosecurity science community has changed over the last 10 years, with mathematical modelling, economics, genomics and the social sciences increasingly replacing more traditional disciplines such as plant pathology, entomology, horticulture or agriculture. This change has occurred as a result of a number of drivers such as; 1. the availability of new technology, 2. a need to understand the economic consequences of an incursion for industry and government, and 3. the need to understand the social consequences of biosecurity threats. While these new research areas meet the changing biosecurity landscape, traditional biology and agricultural expertise remains essential in managing new pests entering and establishing in Australia. The PBCRC has invested $ 3.6 million cash and $ 18 million in-kind in 27 new PhD scholarships to train candidates across each of these areas, including classical taxonomic and ecological research. Four examples of PhD research projects underway and the professional development program offered to PBCRC students will be outlined. Development of national biosecurity structures within the National RD&E Framework for plant biosecurity, grains and horticulture forms part of the PBCRC legacy. To support this legacy, the PBCRC is addressing the critical decline of traditional biological capability while continuing to train students in new research areas such as; economic modelling, genomics, policy and social sciences.
Luck, J. and Wallace, R. 2015. Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre education program – national capacity building. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 1105:329-334
postgraduates, career, training, professional development, industry mentors

Acta Horticulturae