Parwinder Kaur, a PhD student in the School of Plant Biology at The University of Western Australia, was last week awarded the prestigious 2009 Mike Carroll Travelling Fellowship.
Fellowship winners usually travel after the award is presented but Ms Kaur, of Nedlands, has already spent seven weeks in India attending the 5th International Conference on Plant Pathology, meeting leading scientists and conducting a trial at Punjab Agricultural University.
She is researching how the pathogen Albugo candida causes white rust disease in Brassica juncea, Indian mustard. Her research will also help determine whether white rust disease is a threat to Australian mustard and canola production.
Born and educated in India, Ms Kaur won an international postgraduate research scholarship to study at UWA, through the School of Plant Biology.
Ms Kaur said she had spent many school holidays in rural northern India, where she enjoyed milking cows and buffaloes and learning about farming through her uncles.
"Since then I've had a passion to do something for the farming industry because farmers feed the whole world," she said.
"I've seen how disappointing it is for them at the end of the crop season if they have not made enough income to be able to feed their own family."
While completing a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with Honours at Punjab Agricultural University in India, Ms Kaur decided to target the plant protection area.
"After completing Master's degree in Entomology I was looking for some hands-on experience in the plant pathology area," she said.
"Apart from insects, plants are also attacked by several diseases and I applied to UWA for the international postgraduate scholarship to be able to work in the plant pathology group in the School of Plant Biology."
UWA Institute of Agriculture Director, Winthrop Professor Kadambot Siddique said the Mike Carroll Travelling Fellowship honoured the late Dr Mike Carroll, former Director General of the WA Department of Agriculture.
"Dr Carroll's devotion to agriculture and his tireless and selfless efforts to improve the lot of farmers, the wider community and his scientific colleagues is well recognised. The Fellowship also reflects the great value he placed on international relationships," Professor Siddique said.
"Recipients of the fellowship are chosen on their academic abilities, relevance of studies to an important area of Australian broad acre agriculture, their potential to benefit from the experience and their enthusiasm to impart the findings of their travels to the scientific, farming and wider community on their return to WA."
Previous winners of the Mike Carroll Travelling Fellowship include:
Inaugural winners Martin Vila Aiub: invited speaker to the 4th International Weed Science Congress in Durban, South Africa, and Ben Biddulph: presented a paper at the 10th International Symposium of Pre-harvest sprouting in cereals in Norwich, U.K
Graeme Doole: went to University of California at Berkley, with a focus on agricultural and research problems.
Christopher Jones: travelled to North America to investigate oil production in sandalwood that might lead to the development of a novel cropping system for WA farmers.
Shane Friesen: visited Rothamstead Research Station in the UK, the world's oldest active, agricultural research station, where he was involved in the Resistance 2007 Conference.
Di Mayberry: attended international conferences on sheep and goat nutrition in Beijing, China and Thessaloniki, Greece.
Weihua Chen: spent three months at The University of Adelaide, experimenting on transport of phosphate in plants with world expert Professor Steve Tyerman.
Megan Chadwick: attended Utah State University, USA and presented on behaviour based management of livestock on farms at a conference.
Annaliese Mason: spent six weeks in France researching how to combat potential problems of abnormal chromosome associations in Super Brassica plants.
Winthrop Professor Kadambot Siddique (UWA Institute of Agriculture) (+61 8) 6488 7012
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716