A Research Fellow from The University of Western Australia has spoken at the United Nations Headquarters in New York about how her research will play a role in tackling the Global Goal of “zero hunger”. The goal is to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”.
Dr Laura Boykin, a Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and The University of Western Australia’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was chosen as one of 14 people from around the globe to present her work to world leaders as part of the Solutions Summit.
The Solutions Summit, described as a “catalytic gathering”, was part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit held last weekend. It marked the beginning of a global effort to support those who are tackling 17 Global Goals by recognising that exceptional innovators, including scientists, technologists and engineers are developing solutions that can address one or more of these goals.
Dr Boykin and her research team use genomics and supercomputing to help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa control whiteflies, which cause devastation to local cassava crops.
800 million people globally depend on cassava for their daily calories. Estimates of cassava production losses across East and Central African countries as a result of whitefly-mediated destruction have been put as high as 47%. Such devastation is leaving many without food.
Using genetic data to understand the whitefly’s evolution, Dr Boykin’s research has demonstrated important genetic differences in various whitefly species. This speciation information is used by researchers and breeders to ensure farmers are given varieties of cassava crop resistant to the appropriate whitefly species they are encountering.
Cassava crop destruction results not only in hunger but also in annual losses of more than US$1.25 billion to small scale family farmers in Africa. As such, Dr Boykin’s research will also help to tackle the Global Goal of eradicating poverty.
Dr Boykin is also working to equip African scientists with a greater knowledge of genomics and the high-performance computing skills needed to tackle future insect outbreaks.
To learn more about Dr Boykin’s research see: www.lauraboykinresearch.com
To watch the presentation: http://webtv.un.org/watch/solutions-summit/4513902276001
David Stacey (UWA Media Officer) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716
Laura Boykin(Research Fellow, UWA School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, ARC CoE in Plant Energy Biology) Laura.Boykin@uwa.edu.au, (+61 8) 6488 4488