Everyday plant health heroes
Coordinator of the Euphresco network for phytosanitary research coordination and funding
Plant health is for me synonym of ‘international’, because pests have no borders.
How did you choose your job? Or did it choose you?
Throughout my studies and my career, I have always tried to learn and improve myself. The position I hold currently is the natural evolution of a scientist, who spent almost a decade working on rocket science, but was instead looking to have an impact on the short term and wanted to feel useful to people. So, after almost a decade at the bench, I moved to para-scientific activities. As a consultant, I supported scientists to get national and international funds and managed the projects that were commissioned. The step towards the coordination of a network of research funders was an easy and logical one.
How long have you worked in this industry?
I have worked with plants for most of my career; I moved to other fields to follow more opportunities and challenges, but plants are always back (or I am always back, if you prefer).
What does plant health mean to you?
From my perspective, plant health is the centre of the universe, around which all the stakeholders I work with (i.e. the research funders, the policy makers, the regulators, the scientists) gravitate. Plant health is for me synonym of ‘international’, because pests have no borders.
What are your three greatest achievements in this role?
My greatest achievements are promoting biosecurity using more unconventional and creative ways to ensure ongoing awareness of biosecurity risks, concerns and the practices industry can adopt. Over the past few years, different growers, agronomists and researchers have provided their biosecurity top tips in short videos (check out the CottonInfo YouTube channel!) to share with others how easy biosecurity practices are to implement in their day-to-day activities.
I’m also excited by the increasing number of farms within the Australian cotton industry with a documented farm biosecurity plans, highlighting the increased awareness of biosecurity risks and measures amongst growers – and growers taking action to protect their farm, business, region and industry.
What does a typical day look like for you?
When I joined Euphresco in 2014, Euphresco was in a transition phase between an EU-funded project and a self-sustainable network. As a newcomer, I had to gain the trust of the historical members that had been working together since 2006, and I had to strengthen the links between Euphresco and the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. Many things have been achieved since, and it would be difficult to highlight one or a few successes. Generally speaking, I am happy of the credibility and visibility that the network has gained worldwide, but it would be a mistake to consider that this is an achievement, because we have to work everyday to keep the network where it is!
What advice would you give anybody wanting to get into the industry?
Learn how to speak to plant health people, words are important! An insightful reading is the glossary of phytosanitary terms (IPSM5).