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Chris Russell Medal of Excellence Award

27 March 2020
Sydney graduates receive prestigious award for Honours research
Chris Russell Medal of Excellence Award acknowledges the high quality of research conducted by final year students in all NSW universities and celebrates excellence in agricultural science.

Chris Russell Medal of Excellence Award is an annual award founded by Associate Professor Daniel Tan while he was President of the NSW Division of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology in 2014. The award is named after ABC New Inventors celebrity and agricultural scientist, Chris Russell AM.

It is open to undergraduate and coursework masters students who are completing their agriculture, natural resource management and animal science studies, and are undertaking a research project as part of their studies. This competition requires students to prepare an essay on their research and deliver an oral presentation which includes the rationale, aims, methodology, results, agricultural applications and directions for future research.

On Friday 13 March 2020, the awards event was held at Australian Technology Park, and was sponsored by AusCott. The two competing finalists made their verbal presentations, as their written papers had already been marked. Competing finalists were Jeremy Prananto, Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Scott Nevison, Bachelor of Food and Agribusiness.

Jeremy Pranato and Professor Alex McBratney

Jeremy Pranato and Professor Alex McBratney

The first presenter was Jeremy who spoke to his excellent paper which covered near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) used as a tool for a rapid and real-time nutrient analysis of cotton leaf tissues.

In his concluding statement, Jeremy indicated that NIRS has the potential to provide a rapid real-time and cheap plant nutrient analysis method that would allow farmers and consultants to be more proactive and efficient in plant nutrient management.

Jeremy says “My honours project was supervised by Professor Budiman Minasny and Dr Tim Weaver. I investigated the use of a portable near-infrared instrument to measure the nutrient status of important crops in the field. My research demonstrated that NIRS can accurately measure the concentration of various macro and micronutrients on cotton leaves. The study leads to the development of a better crop nutrient management tool.”

Scott Nevison

Scott Nevison

The second and final presenter was Scott who spoke to methods by which nanoparticles can deliver genes to plant Clusters of Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR). Scott explained the process by which nanoparticles can deliver genes to plant cells, independent of species type.  In his summing up he explained that they were successful in achieving transient gene expression.

Scott explains “CRISPR has the potential to greatly improve plant breeding outcomes. My research encapsulates what the future of agriculture looks like - we're in a critical stage where we need to look to biotechnologies like gene editing to improve our food security moving to the future."

Judging was difficult because both presenters were deemed by the judges to be excellent presenters however the final vote went to Scott Nevison.

This award celebrates and highlights the ever increasing standards reached by today’s agricultural graduates, plus the great job opportunities available in the agricultural sector.

This competition is open to students across the state, with the finalists showcased nationally by the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology. The winner goes on to represent NSW in the national student award, called the AEV Richardson Memorial Award. The winner will also receive a cash prize and medal as well as transport and accommodation to participate in the national award. Both the NSW and National Award events are excellent opportunities to network and meet people working in the industry.

Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to showcase your research and stand out in the crowd!

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