Scholarships lure cane researchers

FOUR postgraduate university students have begun doctoral or masters research linked to the sugar cane industry - with the support of a Sugar Research and Development Corporation scholarship.

Gregory McDonald from University of Sydney, Justin Sexton from James Cook University, Maren Westermann from University of Queensland, and Travis Robert Wieck from University of Southern Queensland are the lucky postgraduate students who received an SRDC-funded scholarship.

SRDC executive director Annette Sugden said although the number of students enrolling in agriculture-related tertiary courses was increasing, the sugarcane industry must not be complacent as the pool of researchers remained small.

"SRDC's decision to create a postgraduate scholarship program has been extremely successful with 78 scholarships being offered over the past 10 years,'' Ms Sugden said.

"During this time, sugarcane researchers have achieved significant breakthroughs, from developing new sugar cane varieties with pest and disease resistance to adding value to the national crop by creating diversification products.

"Certainly, the SRDC scholarship program has created an attractive incentive for scholars to choose a rewarding career in sugarcane research. A broad field of 20 high-calibre students applied for a scholarship and the process was extremely competitive. Without continuing our investment in postgraduate scholarships, our industry may struggle to find sugarcane researchers in the future."

2013 SRDC-funded scholarship recipients:

  • Gregory McDonald from the University of Sydney will identify strategies to reduce N losses from tropical and sub-tropical agricultural soils.
  • Justin Sexton from James Cook University will identify ways to overcome limitations in crop models with respect to drought tolerance and climate change.
  •  Maren Westermann from the University of Queensland will research the effect of organic nutrients on sugarcane growth, microbial activity and greenhouse gas emissions.
  •  Travis Wieck from the University of Southern Queensland will investigate the utility of mill mud for soil health conditioning and nutrient use efficiency on sodic soils within the Burdekin.

For more information about SRDC's scholarship program, contact SRDC senior investment manager Dr Diana Saunders on 07 3210 0495 or email

Topics:  agricultural education research and development sugar industry

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.