International collaborations enriching agriculture research

06 September 2023
Smiling woman wearing black t-shirt that has a white round-shaped logo on the left breast stands in front of a cattle yard that has cows in the background alongside a man wearing a plain blue t-shirt and jeans with hands on hips also looking and smiling directly at the camera
Brazilian scholars Kawane and William in Rockhampton

At CQUniversity’s Institute for Future Farming Systems (IFFS), when you combine an undergraduate agronomist, a post-graduate researcher in animal science and a senior researcher in livestock management you get a rich international research collaboration. 

Two visiting scholars from Brazil are currently in Rockhampton where they are working alongside CQUniversity’s Precision Livestock Management Senior Research Officer Diogo Costa to better understand ruminant nutrition and management in grazing and feedlot systems. 

The scholars are Kawane Silva who is an undergraduate in Agronomy at the State University of Londrina (UEL) and William De Souza who is a PhD Student in Animal Science at the São Paulo State University(Unesp), Campus Jaboticabal.

“Kawane has just completed an honours project in crop-livestock integration and she will be with us for six months as a trainee and it will count as credits back at her uni,” Dr Costa explained. 

“William is doing his PhD under the supervision of Professor Ricardo Reis from Sao Paulo State University, who I have collaborated with in various projects for over a decade,” he said.

“Ricardo suggested William to come to Australia for a sandwich program at CQU.” 

A sandwich program consists of a research program in which a graduate student conducts part of their work at a university abroad in an exchange program. 

Four people standing outdoors in front of a CQUniversity sign all looking towards camera and smiling
William Souza, Diogo Costa, Priscila Bernardes, Kawane Silva

“For example, CQUniversity could host graduate students from Brazilian universities to spend from three to 12 months in Australia working under the supervision of a CQU researcher.  In Brazil, there are three main funding agencies that support this initiative (CNPq, CAPES and FAPESP). They sponsor air tickets, provide living allowance and a ‘technical reserve’ that consists of money to be used for conferences at the hosting country and publish joint papers. 

“The idea is for researchers to take advantage of the infrastructure or conditions of another higher education institution to enrich their existing body of work. Depending on the subject of research, the student may need resources that his/her university does not have, or simply be after an opportunity to work under the supervision of a researcher that has solid experience on a topic relatively new in Brazil and therefore would justify the funding for the work abroad.” 

Dr Costa said Kawane and William were contributing to the conduction of daily activities in experiments as part of a large project funded by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), with the trio evaluating the water delivery of methane reducing compounds focused on livestock grazing in extensive systems. 

“These students have different educational backgrounds making the collaboration multidisciplinary which is what makes it even more meaningful.”

Kawane is living on campus at CQU and said the experience had been "amazing" so far. 

“I arrived three weeks ago and I've already met a lot of people and have helped at the lab and in the shed,” she said. 

“All the people are being patient and friendly. I hope to improve my English, learn about Aussie culture and livestock and make some friends to share my experiences.”

William will be in Australia for 13 months and said he too was enjoying life in Rockhampton.

“I hope to learn English, improve my knowledge and consequently my CV,” William said of the experience.

“I'm 29 years old, I did a high school/technical education in Animal Science and I graduated in Animal Science in Minas Gerais from the Federal Institute of Southeast Minas Gerais, a Master's degree from Unesp and now a PhD student at the same university.

“I chose to come to Australia and CQU for this experience due to the similarity in the studies that are carried out here and by my study group in Brazil (same research area).”