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Science in plain English the challenge for meat industry postgrads

Tuesday 14th of November 2017
The meat industry’s Postgraduate Program Leader Dr Graham Gardner, of Murdoch University, and Sheep CRC chief executive Professor James Rowe congratulate Claire Payne, of Murdoch University, who was awarded best research poster presentation from first year postgraduates
The meat industry’s Postgraduate Program Leader Dr Graham Gardner, of Murdoch University, and Sheep CRC chief executive Professor James Rowe congratulate Claire Payne, of Murdoch University, who was awarded best research poster presentation from first year postgraduates

The next generation of leading meat industry researchers are armed with the knack of translating complicated science into everyday language, following an industry training workshop last week.

Some 24 post-graduate researchers sponsored by the Sheep CRC, Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Pork Limited, converged in Sydney for a week-long professional development course, which featured two-days of intensive communications training led by CQUniversity’s Michael Thomson and Cox Inall Communications’ Kaaren Latham.

The meat industry’s Post Graduate Program Leader Dr Graham Gardner, of Murdoch University, said the annual course rotated its content over a three-year cycle to ensure the young scientists were able to apply and communicate their research findings in real world situations.

“This public communications workshop is a vital component of the training program as it emphasises the importance of dealing with livestock producers and industry partners, which is the foundation for ensuring high-quality science research is grounded in the real world,” Dr Gardner said.

Graduate tracking surveys completed between 2009 and 2013 demonstrated that 70% of postgraduates who have participated in the program have since found employment directly within the sheep and cattle industries, and that 90% have been retained more broadly within agriculture.


The meat industry’s Postgraduate Program Leader Dr Graham Gardner, of Murdoch University, and Sheep CRC chief executive Professor James Rowe congratulate Rachel O’Reilly, of Murdoch University, who was awarded best oral research presentation from second and third year postgraduates
The meat industry’s Postgraduate Program Leader Dr Graham Gardner, of Murdoch University, and Sheep CRC chief executive Professor James Rowe congratulate Rachel O’Reilly, of Murdoch University, who was awarded best oral research presentation from second and third year postgraduates

As well as receiving media and social media training to support better engagement with the public, the post-graduate researchers were also instructed by a panel of scientific experts including the Sheep CRC’s James Rowe and Dave Pethick, Ian Jenson and Jim Rothwell from Meat & Livestock Australia, prominent pork industry researcher Frank Dunshea, Daniel Brown from the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit, and former head of CSIRO Livestock Industries Alan Bell.

Murdoch University’s Rachel O’Reilly was awarded best research presentation by the panel. Ms O’Reilly is now in the third year of a project investigating Chinese consumer responses to quality indicators of sheep meat.

“Sensory testing of Chinese consumers is revealing new opportunities for the Australian sheepmeat industry, with lamb and yearling shoulder cuts performing well using traditional Chinese cooking methods,” Ms O’Reilly said. 

“The post-grad training conference was a unique opportunity to learn from the expert panel, improve my research communication skills, and build networks with the next generation of agricultural researchers. It has been a fantastic learning experience and I am very thankful I was given the opportunity to participate.”

Claire Payne, also of Murdoch University, was awarded the prize for best poster presentation by a first-year PhD researcher. Her project is also focussed on eating quality of sheepmeat and will use new DEXA technology to assess bone mineralisation in sheep carcasses to give a prediction of age.

"My research is going to evaluate if eating quality differences occur between new season lamb and old season lamb across the whole carcass using consumer sensory scores,” Ms Payne said.

"The postgraduate conference has been a fantastic opportunity to meet other students and broaden my knowledge of other agriculture research topics. Receiving feedback from leading researchers and possible future employers is an invaluable opportunity and I feel incredibly grateful for the time taken to help us hone our research skills."

 

Media contact: Michael Thomson, 0408 819 666.


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