Thursday, 15 August 2013

Young researcher forages for answers

In the final post of a 3-part series to help celebrate National Science Week, we're profiling ACIAR Graduate Officers. Our 'grads' help demonstrate the variety and opportunity a career in agricultural science can provide.
Bonnie Flohr pictured in front of the oldest agricultural fields of Tibet
Each year ACIAR hires recently-graduated students from Universities across Australia. Bonnie Flohr is one of three graduates from various science fields to work in our research programs. 

Bonnie's trial on dual purpose crops in Lhasa, Tibet
Bonnie studied at the University of Adelaide and has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Agriculture. Her honours project “The impact of defoliation on wheat growth, forage quality and yield- a dual-purpose cropping perspective" helped her complete a similar project under Tibetan environmental conditions. Bonnie grew up on a cropping/sheep farm in South Australia.

“The involvement with the family property growing up definitely influenced me to study agriculture. Up until moving to Canberra I still helped out when I could,” she said.

After completing her degree, Bonnie spent 6 months in Tibet as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development (AYAD) working as a crop and livestock project officer.  Bonnie worked with the Tibetan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) investigating new and improved ways of producing and storing fodder. The core project looked at the suitability of dual-purpose cropping systems in central Tibet. Her time in Tibet has helped her to prepare for her role at ACIAR, especially when it comes to managing a research trial in a developing country.   
Bonnie, having completed her research trial: "These ladies helped and were so lovely
to me during my time in Tibet, even though our communication was very limited"
Apart from my honours project, it was the first research I had done by myself which in itself was a huge learning curve where I had to be able to be flexible and problem solve. I also learnt a lot about their culture and the difficulties they face.” Bonnie wrote about her experiences in AYAD’s Exchange Magazine

Bonnie with a TARI colleague in a harvested field
In the future Bonnie hopes to be out in the field managing her own research projects.  

ACIAR will help me get there by exposing me to the current international agriculture issues andprojects, and the process of how projects use and manage government investment in aid work. I also hope to get some good ideas for a PhD project, and make some important networks in the industry,” Bonnie said.

Bonnie is working across ACIAR's ‘Crops’ cluster of research programs.

Now into it’s sixteenth year, National Science week provides an opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of Australian scientists’ to the world of knowledge. It also aims to encourage an interest in science pursuits among the general public, and to encourage younger people to be fascinated by the world we live in. As an agricultural science research agency employing people like Bonnie, ACIAR certainly contributes to this world of knowledge.

These three young adults have remarkable stories to share as a result of their love of science.  This is the week (if any!) to invigorate your love of science. Check out what National Science Week events are happening throughout Australia. 

Further information: 
National Science Week
ACIAR Recruitment (note: there are currently no graduate officer vacancies with ACIAR but when positions become available they are posted here)
Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program
Related blog posts: 
Young scientists getting down and dirty (blog post profiling ACIAR Graduate Officer, Jack Koci)
All creatures great and small (blog post profiling ACIAR Graduate Officer Emma Zalcman)
Agriculture and the skills challenge: finding the links between uni and industry (blog post profiling previous ACIAR Graduate Officer, Brendan Brown)
Building markets for Vietnamese indigenous vegetables (blog post profiling previous ACIAR Graduate Officer, Rebecca McBride

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