CQUni lecturer wins international ag research fellowship

Published:31 October 2018

CQUniversity’s Dr Shahla Hosseini Bai has been awarded the prestigious John Dillon Fellowship.

A commitment to making a difference to agriculture in developing countries has been awarded with a prestigious fellowship for CQUniversity’s Dr Shahla Hosseini Bai.

Dr Hosseini Bai is currently completing a John Dillon Fellowship provided by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which is awarded to top researchers to develop their leadership skills in research management, agricultural policy and extension technologies.

Until this year, it was only offered to researchers from overseas countries where ACIAR conducts projects, but was widened to include two Australian researchers for the first time, one of whom is Dr Hosseini Bai.

“I feel honoured and privileged to be one of the JD fellows in 2018. It’s a great opportunity to develop my leadership skills and widen my networking so that I can build awareness and increase the impact of the research we are conducting in Papua New Guinea,” Dr Hosseini Bai said.

“ACIAR has provided funding to establish a pilot factory in PNG to commercialise canarium (galip) nuts. The project leader is Professor Helen Wallace from the University of the Sunshine Coast and we have a transdisciplinary team who work as ‘one team’ to commercialise canarium nuts in PNG.”

The main objectives of the project is to increase food security and empower women and youth in PNG.

“In particular I’ve been investigating nutrient cycling in the farming system and assisting the communities in value-adding their product post-harvest,” Dr Hosseini Bai said.

ACIAR established the Fellowship in recognition of Professor John L. Dillon’s life-long support for international agricultural research.

The course is designed to support early and mid-career researchers, with 11 different countries represented in the group of John Dillon Fellows in 2018.

It features six weeks of best-practice training workshops and networking events with leading agricultural research and policy groups.

Dr Hosseini Bai joined CQUniversity’s agriculture program last month as a senior lecturer, bringing extensive knowledge of soil-plant interactions in horticultural production systems.

“One of my passions is soil conservation and promoting sustainable land management practices on fragile soils against climate change and human disturbance both in Australia and the Pacific,” she said.

She also brings expertise in digital-based agriculture and leads a research group that uses hyperspectral imaging to rapidly predict plant stress, soil nutrient concentration, fruit set and food quality.

Dr Hosseini Bai is based at CQUniversity’s Bundaberg campus and is part of the Precision Horticulture research team within CQUniversity’s Institute for Future Farming Systems.