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K-State Today

May 2, 2014

Eight researchers participating in three-day conference in Australia

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

The Land Down Under is about to get a little more purple. On Saturday, eight Kansas State University researchers are traveling to Queensland, Australia, to participate in a Science Exchange conference, taking place May 6-9.

The conference is hosted by the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre, a public/private consortium that includes some of Australia's leading governmental research institutions, private companies and universities. Its members focus on developing new strategies and technologies to combat emerging plant diseases and insect pests that threaten Australian and American agricultural systems. K-State is the only U.S. university involved.

The international conference will be attended by the research centre's board and staff, as well as students, researchers, industry representatives and agricultural producers from Australia, the U.S. and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. It features various sessions, research presentations, a student workshop, an awards banquet and several social events.

"Kansas and Australia share many common disease and insect threats to our food production systems," said John Leslie, university distinguished professor and head of the department of plant pathology. "The Plant Biosecurity CRC provides opportunities for us to work with world-class scientists at international peer institutions to solve critical food safety and food security problems of common interest.

"These interactions are at the very core of K-State's Global Food Systems Initiative because they are international, interdisciplinary efforts to address practical problems in the detection, identification and remediation of the spoilage, contamination and losses associated with plants and their associated microbial diseases and insect pests," he continued.

Five university faculty members, two graduate students and a postdoctoral research fellow are attending the Science Exchange. In addition to Leslie, those K-State personnel are:

  • Subramanyam Bhadriraju, professor of grain science and industry
  • Brian McCornack, assistant professor of entomology
  • Tom Phillips, professor of entomology

  • Jim Stack, professor of plant pathology

  • Mohammad Arif, research associate in plant pathology
  • Benjamin Plumier, doctoral student in grain science

  • Ryan Schmid, doctoral student in entomology

The Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre is one of a growing number of research and scholarship collaborations between K-State and Australian institutions. More information about the university's Australia initiatives is available at k-state.edu/australia/.