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Research students focus on global food issues

Producing food in a sustainable way for the world’s increasing population is high on the agenda for University of the Sunshine Coast PhD students Camila Ribeiro and Natalia Souza.

The two researchers, both from Brazil, recently attended a conference in Canberra organised by the Crawford Fund, a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness of the benefits of Australia’s engagement in international agricultural research and development.

Titled ‘Reshaping Agriculture for Better Nutrition: The Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, Health Nexus’, the conference posed the question of how to feed the world’s increasing population with a healthy diet while minimising further environmental impact.

Camila, 30, and Natalia, 28, had each successfully applied for Crawford Fund scholarships, which enabled them to attend the two-day conference at Parliament House.

They both enjoyed connecting with scholars from across the world at the two-day event, seeing presentations by inspiring international speakers, and being paired with research mentors for collaborative work.

Camila, an agronomist working on a project in the Philippines through USC’s Tropical Forests and People Research Centre, said she appreciated the diverse range of ideas presented at the conference.

“The opportunities to workshop sustainable agriculture ideas with leading researchers from developing countries connected well with my research, which aims to promote international development through agriculture,” she said.

“I’ve been looking specifically at how agriculture can benefit the community and the environment.”

Natalia, who is conducting research into eucalypt pests at the USC Forest Industries Research Centre, said the conference provided opportunities to see applications for her research in the biological control of pests for sustainable agriculture.

“It was an amazing opportunity,” she said. “The conference had a deep impact on my way of thinking and opened my eyes to the broader possibilities of my research.

“I was able to work with people to look at more sustainable ways of producing food.”

In their research work at USC, Camila is supervised by Professor John Herbohn, the Director of the Tropical Forests and People Research Centre, while Natalia is supervised by Dr Helen Nahrung a Senior Research Fellow in the Forest Industries Research Centre.

- Gail Champion

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