Speakers

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Conference Speakers

Opening Speakers

Mr Costa Georgiardis, Landscape architect and host of Gardening Australia

2019 Logie Award Winner, Costa Georgiadis is a landscape architect who has an all-consuming passion for plants and people – he knows how to bring out the best in both of them, and takes great pleasure in bringing them together.

He is the host and co-creator of Costa’s Garden Odyssey for SBS television currently hosts Gardening Australia on the ABC.

Costa believes in embracing and celebrating mother nature’s cycles and seasons and nurturing her balance, beauty and bounty organically. His holistic approach is all about gardening the soil and the soul.

Dr Judy West AO, Executive Director, Australian National Botanic Gardens

Judy West is Executive Director of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, and Assistant Secretary, within Parks Australia, a Division of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment. Besides the Botanic Gardens, she oversees Parks Australia’s science, natural resource and knowledge-management activities, and manages Parks Partnerships.

Judy has more than 30 years experience in scientific research and policy as a research scientist in CSIRO Plant Industry and director of the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research and the Australian National Herbarium. She holds an adjunct professorial position at the Australian National University. For her contributions to Australian plant systematics and Australia’s Virtual Herbarium, she was awarded the Nancy Burbidge Memorial Medal in 2001 and an Order of Australia in 2003. Judy’s scientific expertise is in plant systematics and phylogenetics, biodiversity informatics and conservation biology. Using her skills developing partnerships that link science and policy, Judy is building an active science and knowledge-management network in Parks Australia.

Mr Damian Wrigley, National Coordinator, Australian Seed Bank Partnership

Damian Wrigley is the National Coordinator of the Australian Seed Bank Partnership; Australia’s National Focal Point for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation under the CBD; and the Oceania Representative to the CITES Plants Committee. Damian has over 15 years of working in biodiversity conservation policy and programs, including supporting large-scale scientific partnerships tackling the issues affecting Australia’s natural environment. Damian is hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.

Dr Cathy Offord, The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust

Cathy is the Manager of Germplasm Conservation at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. She is based at the Australian PlantBank, which is an integrated plant conservation facility. She oversees the seed, tissue culture and plant growth research programs and laboratories. Cathy’s main area of interest is the conservation of threatened species in situ and ex situ. In 2018 she won the 2018 NSW Premier’s Prize for Innovation in Public Sector Science and Engineering. Cathy is the Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Australasian Seed Science Conference.

Richie Allan, Director, Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation

Richie is a Ngunnawal Kamilaroi custodian who was born in Ngunnawal Country and raised on both Ngunnawal and Kamilaroi Country.
Richie is TOAC’s Cultural Director where he manages cultural awareness, education and Ngunnawal relationships. He is also our Ngunnawal expert and provides valuable advice to organisations on culture and creating safe workplaces for Aboriginal people to thrive in.

Theme 1: Seed biology and evolutionary ecology

Dr Si-Chong Chen, Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK

Dr Si-Chong Chen is an ecologist working on the macroecological patterns in seed ecology at the Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK. She received her PhD from the University of New South Wales, Australia, and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

For years, she continuously built her interests in various aspects of seed predation, seed dispersal, seed germination and relevant disciplines. Si-Chong’s research aims to contribute to further understanding of seed ecology in three key ways: 1) by narrowing the gaps between data, intuitive ideas and theories; 2) by enhancing the integration of replicated studies at a macro-ecological scale; and 3) by extending understanding from a local scale and a small number of species to a global scale spanning many biomes and taxonomic groups.

Dr Karen Sommerville, The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust

Karen Sommerville is a horticultural scientist with a passion for conservation. Her research experience ranges from the reproductive biology and genetics of saltmarsh plants to symbiotic culture of orchids and the storage behaviour of rainforest seeds. Since 2015, she has been leading the Rainforest Seed Conservation Project at The Australian PlantBank, working to determine which Australian rainforest species are suitable for seedbanking and which require alternative methods of ex situ conservation. With funding from the Ian Potter Foundation, Karen is currently using differential scanning calorimetry to investigate the response of rainforest seeds to freezing and thawing. This work will contribute to the conservation of rainforest plants by helping to identify the most appropriate storage temperatures for seedbanking.

Dr Mark Ooi, University of New South Wales

Mark Ooi is a Senior Research Fellow and plant ecologist based at the Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW. Over more than 15 years, he has investigated seed ecology and the role it plays in plant population dynamics, particularly in fire-prone regions. His work sits on the interface between ecology and conservation, and is often focused on threatened species and the impacts of climate change and changing fire regimes.

He is a lead researcher at the NSW Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub, where his group undertakes research focused on plant and seed ecology and the conservation of threatened species. He also serves as an Associate Editor for Seed Science Research and the American Journal of Botany.

Dr Jose M. Barrero, CSIRO Agriculture and Food

Jose completed his PhD in the Miguel Hernandez University, Spain, where he worked in leaf development and salt-resistance using the model plant Arabidopsis. He came to Australia in 2006 to join the CSIRO seed dormancy group as a Postdoctoral fellow, becoming Team Leader in 2015. His team studied the molecular and environmental mechanisms controlling seed dormancy using a variety of plant species including Arabidopsis, Brachypodium, barley and wheat.

Recently he has joined the Legume Protection Team where he is developing GM cowpea with in-built protection against insects and with enhanced photosynthetic capacity for developing countries.

Theme 2: Seed sourcing and end-use

Prof Robert Henry, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

Prof Robert Henry conducts research on the development of new products from plants. He is particularly interested in Australian flora and plants of economic and social importance; conducting research into genome sequencing to capture novel genetic resources, which target improved understanding of the molecular basis of the quality of products produced from plants, and genome analysis to capture novel genetic resources for diversification of food and energy crops.

Robert is Professor of Innovation in Agriculture and was foundation Director of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, a Research Institute at the University of Queensland in partnership with the Queensland Government. He was previously Director of the Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics at Southern Cross University and Research Program Leader in the Queensland Agricultural Biotechnology Centre.

Dr David Merritt, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

David is a Principal Research Scientist at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, based at Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth. David has been working with seeds for more than 20 years and his research interests include seed banking, germination physiology and ecology, and the development of seed enhancement technologies to improve seed handling practices for ecological restoration.

Theme 3: Seed and gene bank management

Dr Elinor Breman, Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK

Dr Elinor Breman (MA Cantab, MSc Oxon, DPhil Oxon) is the Senior Research Leader for seed conservation at RBG Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. With a background in plant ecology, forestry and palaeoecology, Elinor has been working in seed conservation for the past seven years. Elinor currently oversees the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, a global initiative to preserve natives species. She is interested in all aspects of conservation seed banking – notably ensuring the quality of collections and building capacity to deliver this.

Dr Sally Norton, Australian Grains Genebank

Sally Norton is the national Leader of the Australian Grains Genebank (AGG) which is one of the largest and most diverse agricultural ex-situ genebank globally. The AGG is located in Horsham, Victoria, and conserves cultivated crop germplasm from all around the world as well as crop wild relative species that are used by Australia’s research and breeders to research and develop new, more resilient grain crop varieties for Australia. Sally has over 20 years’ experience in the collection, characterisation and curation of plant germplasm, and is recognised as a specialist on crop wild relatives. Sally is the Chair of the Organising Committee of the Australasian Seed Science Conference.   

Dr Andrew Crawford, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

Andrew Crawford is the manager of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ Threatened Flora Vault of the Western Australian Seed Centre. Andrew has been involved with the collection of Australian native plant species for over 30 years, with 20 years spent collecting and conserving seed of Western Australia’s conservation significant plant species.

Andrew’s work covers all aspects of the seed conservation process; from seed collection and processing, to seed storage and testing, generating plants for translocations, as well as seed focused research aiding in threatened species management and recovery.

Theme 4: Seeds in culture and society

Dr Terri Janke, Managing Director of Terri Janke and Company

Dr Terri Janke became a lawyer to advance the social justice of Indigenous Australians. She is of Meriam and Wuthathi heritage, and is the owner and managing director of Terri Janke and Company, an award winning legal and consulting firm founded in 2000.

The team at Terri Janke and Company strive to empower Indigenous people to manage their culture and attain their business goals. The key to Indigenous self-determination is being able to control and manage your future. She is an international expert on Indigenous cultural and intellectual property. Her book True Tracks: Working with Indigenous Knowledge and Culture will be published in July of 2021.

Prof Brad Sherman, The University of Queensland

Brad Sherman is a Professor of Law at The University of Queensland. Professor Sherman’s previous academic positions include posts at Griffith University, the London School of Economics, and the University of Cambridge. His research expertise encompasses many aspects of intellectual property law, with a particular emphasis on its historical, doctrinal and conceptual development.

In 2015 Professor Sherman was awarded a highly prestigious Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship. His laureate project Harnessing Intellectual Property to Build Food Security looks at the role of intellectual property in relation to food security.

Dr Ola T. Westengen, Norwegian University of Life Sciences NMBU

Dr Westengen is an Associate Professor at the Department of International Environment and Development Studies (Noragric) at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He works on the intersections of science and policy research on crop diversity and seed systems. Previous to his current university position, he worked for the Crop Trust, the FAO and the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre. Westengen was the first coordinator of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault from 2007-2015. He does research on conservation and use of genetic resources; seed supply systems; food security and adaptation to climate change; crop evolution and crop diversity as biocultural heritage.

Launch of the Germplasm Guidelines

Dr Amelia Martyn Yenson, Project Manager, Germplasm Guidelines, Australian Network for Plant Conservation

Amelia Martyn Yenson is a Project Manager at the Australian Network for Plant Conservation and coordinated updates for this third edition of ‘Plant Germplasm Conservation in Australia’. She has research interests in seed lifespan and germination, with a focus on improving seed quality for conservation storage and utilisation of Australian native plant species. Amelia’s research is based at the Australian PlantBank, part of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

Prof Tim Entwisle, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Professor Tim Entwisle is a highly respected scientist, scientific communicator and botanic gardens director. He took up the role of Director and Chief Executive of Royal Botanic Gardens in March 2013, following two years in a senior role at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, and eight years as Executive Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in Sydney.  Tim is an Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Botany at The University of Melbourne and an expert in freshwater algae but has a broad interest in plants. Tim is a regular contributor to ABC and other radio and writes for science, nature and garden magazines. He is active on social media, including his popular Talkingplants blog.

Dr Cathy Offord, The Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust

Cathy is the Manager of Germplasm Conservation at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. She is based at the Australian PlantBank, which is an integrated plant conservation facility. She oversees the seed, tissue culture and plant growth research programs and laboratories. Cathy’s main area of interest is the conservation of threatened species in situ and ex situ. In 2018 she won the 2018 NSW Premier’s Prize for Innovation in Public Sector Science and Engineering. Cathy is the Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Australasian Seed Science Conference.

Conference Workshop Presenters

Workshop 1: Seed Banking 101

Dr Aisyah Faruk, Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK

Aisyah is the Conservation Partnerships Coordinator for Europe and Oceania at the Millennium Seed Bank at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Aisyah started at the Millennium Seed Bank as the coordinator for partnerships in the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) and the Arabian Peninsula regions.

Dr Elinor Breman, Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK

Dr Elinor Breman (MA Cantab, MSc Oxon, DPhil Oxon) is the Senior Research Leader for seed conservation at RBG Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank. With a background in plant ecology, forestry and palaeoecology, Elinor has been working in seed conservation for the past seven years. Elinor currently oversees the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, a global initiative to preserve natives species. She is interested in all aspects of conservation seed banking – notably ensuring the quality of collections and building capacity to deliver this.

Dr Kate Hardwick, Millennium Seed Bank of the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK

As a Conservation Partnership Coordinator for Asia, Kates’s job is to develop and maintain Millennium Seed Bank partnerships, projects and networks in the region. Kate aims to secure the safe storage of seed from at least 25% of the world’s bankable plant species, whilst promoting plant conservation, sustainable utilisation of plant resources, habitat restoration and the improvement of livelihoods. She is also involved in several research projects that explore the use of seeds in ecological restoration, with an emphasis on tropical forests and temperate grasslands.

Introduced by Dr Fiona Fraser, Acting Threatened Species Commissioner

Photo and bio yet to come.

Facilitated by Dr Amelia Martyn Yenson, Project Manager, Germplasm Guidelines, Australian Network for Plant Conservation

Amelia Martyn Yenson is a Project Manager at the Australian Network for Plant Conservation and coordinated updates for this third edition of ‘Plant Germplasm Conservation in Australia’. She has research interests in seed lifespan and germination, with a focus on improving seed quality for conservation storage and utilisation of Australian native plant species. Amelia’s research is based at the Australian PlantBank, part of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

Workshop 3: Analysing seed data with R

Dr Adrienne Nicotra, Australian National University

Dr. Adrienne Nicotra is a plant evolutionary ecologist with interest in the capacity of plants to respond to environment and environmental change – what we call phenotypic plasticity. Her work focusses on native species from a wide range of environments, from coastal to tropical to arid, though she is particularly fond of mountain flora. She is now a Professor in the Division of Ecology and Evolution in the Research School of Biology and serves as the Research School of Biology Associate Director of Research and Teaching. Adrienne is passionate about her research and teaching; she supervises honours and postgraduate students and is the director of the Australian Mountain Research Facility.

Dr Terry Neeman, Australian National University

Dr. Terry Neeman is a consulting biostatistician in the Biology Data Science Institute at the Australian National University (ANU). She has a broad background in applied statistics in the areas of experimental design, bioinformatics, clinical trials, epidemiology, survey sampling, meta-analysis, and data analysis of complex experiments. She works principally with young researchers in biology, biomedical science, and medicine both one-on-one and through workshops with a focus on data analysis reproducibility. She is an enthusiastic proponent of the idea that a few statistical principles can go a long way to enabling and empowering biological researchers to learn from their data, develop transparent data analysis workflows, and clearly communicate their experimental findings.

Dr Sergey Rosbakh, University of Regensburg, Germany

Dr. Sergey Rosbakh is a vegetation ecologist with a broad spectrum of research interests including ecology of plant sexual reproduction. In his research, he studies pollen, seed and seedling trait variability along ecological gradients. A plant scientists by training, he appreciates the power and the beauty of biostatistics, which he conveys in his teaching in a simple and comprehensible way. Also, he is a loyal user of the R and Rstudio software.