Scientist, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Healthy animal for a healthy planet
I am an entomologist with a passion for using innovative technologies to control plant and animal insect pests. As a research scientist at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), I actively seek to develop alternative ways to control pest and disease issues in livestock.
The current focus of my research is to develop nanoparticle formulations with extended or strategic release profiles that can provide livestock with prolonged protection against external parasites such as sheep blowflies, buffalo flies, cattle ticks and lice.
In one project, I am scoping the potential for flies to be vaccine carriers for livestock using nanoparticle formulation. This could revolutionise the way vaccines are administered, improving animal health and welfare.
I am also investigating how Australian native plant products could be used as a natural remedy for external parasites in cattle. This could reduce the use of chemicals in livestock production, promoting environmental sustainability.
My work promotes development of sustainable and resilient livestock production systems that minimise environmental impact, improve animal welfare and contribute to food security.
It could help us resolve some of Australia’s most significant animal production management concerns, including chemical resistance; animal health and welfare; occupational exposure of workers; environmental contamination; and chemical residue in produce.
Flies as vaccine carriers
As mentioned above, using flies for livestock vaccination in combination with nanoparticle formulations could revolutionise the way vaccines are administered, improving animal health and welfare.
As well as reducing livestock handling costs and animal stress, insect vaccine carriers would enable wild animals such as feral pigs to be vaccinated if an exotic disease such as foot and mouth disease reached Australia.
A foot and mouth disease incursion would have severe consequences for Australia's animal health and trade, including considerable economic losses with restrictions being placed on both domestic and international markets.
New ways to control livestock parasites
External parasites (e.g. flies, ticks, lice and mites) cost the livestock industry about $359 million a year, and there is a heavy reliance on chemical treatments. Research on novel and next technologies for pest control will improve primary industries’ productivity and profitability in a sustainable way.
My research into insect pest management is highly innovative. The concept of using nanoparticle formulations for integrated pest management in livestock could increase the efficacy of many existing and developing external parasite controls.
For example, nanoparticle formulations could enable producers to use softer chemicals and natural compounds (e.g. tea tree oil)—which would otherwise have limited persistence—to control buffalo flies and cattle ticks.
This would reduce chemical use in livestock production, improving the industry's sustainability and reducing its impact on the environment.
I have also worked with my team to design optimal nanoparticle formulations of ivermectin (an existing product which is used to control lice and flystrike disease in sheep) in the lab and we are preparing to test these on animals.
I have faced numerous challenges as a migrant woman in STEM—from navigating a new language and culture to balancing the demands of a scientific career with the responsibilities of motherhood.
Despite these challenges, I have remained committed to pursuing my passion for science and using my skills to make a positive impact in my field.
As a scientist, I have been fortunate to work on projects that have the potential to make a real difference in people's lives—from developing new treatments for disease to finding ways to promote sustainable agriculture.
As the mother of a young girl, I have also gained a deep appreciation for the importance of supporting and encouraging the next generation of women in STEM.
As a woman in STEM, I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience in science with others—particularly with young people who may not have access to the same opportunities or resources.
I believe my unique background and experiences have given me a valuable perspective that can help make science more accessible and inclusive for all.
During National Science Week, I visited a local high school to showcase some of the innovative science I’m involved in—in this case how black soldier flies can be used for waste management. I engaged students in a hands-on learning experience and shared with them the importance of sustainable waste management solutions.
Next Science Week, I plan to visit more schools and kindergartens to highlight how rewarding a career in STEM can be.
I’m also highlighting opportunities for students to work on research projects with high-ranking universities and institutes.
I believe experiences like this are crucial to inspiring the next generation of scientists and promoting greater public awareness and appreciation for science.
As a woman in STEM and a member of an under-represented group, I am also committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity in scientific communication, and to providing opportunities for others to participate and contribute to scientific conversations.
I am honoured to be considered for the Women in STEM Prize and am excited about continuing to use my skills and experience to make science more accessible and engaging for all.