Three summer students are adding their enthusiasm and expertise to the B3 team over the coming months assisting researchers with their projects. Director David Teulon says summer students provide a valuable contribution to the research program each year, and the experience also allows those taking part an opportunity to enhance their career prospects in the biosecurity space.
“We welcome these students and their enthusiasm, dedication and commitment. Their involvement in our research projects plays an important role in developing tomorrow’s skills and assets,” Dr Teulon said.
The three students working on projects this summer are:
Kesia is working on plant pathogen detecting sensors (B3) with Marion Wood and Sakuntala Karunairetnam. Her interest in science began with a high school science fair project in 2016. With Beccy Ganley and Sarah Addison (Scion) as mentors, Kesia, together with her classmates, entered a school science fair project into the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge. Their concept was to use nitrogen fixing bacteria in biofertiliser as a more environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic fertilisers. The team made it into the final rounds of the competition and travelled to the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida to present the project. Kesia will complete her Bachelor of Sciences majoring in Biological Sciences and Chemistry at the University of Auckland.
Kenzi Yee will be exploring the public awareness of invasive pests and plant diseases in Aotearoa, New Zealand as well as evaluating the effectiveness of the Biosecurity Trail at Auckland Botanic Gardens under the supervision of Mano Sandanayaka.
Born and raised in Malaysia, Kenzi moved to Auckland about 10 years ago. She has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Geography at the University of Auckland.
India is studying for a Bachelor of Environmental Policy and Planning, at Lincoln University. Her summer research is also at Lincoln with Karen Armstrong, John Marris, David Teulon (B3) and Mark McNeill (AgResearch).
Her project is about protecting plants by future proofing plant health. It is a collaboration with Better Border Biosecurity (B3), AgResearch (AgR), Plant and Food Research (PFR) along with the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the UK.
She is surveying specimens of Rosa (Roses), Pinus silvestris (Scots Pine) and Quercus robur (English Oak) at both the Lincoln University Arboretum and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens for pests and diseases. DEFRA is a government organisation, and the project is a pilot study to determine the value of a sentinel plant network to detect new pests and diseases that could inform biosecurity efforts in the UK. This project continues a long and valuable association between B3 researchers and BGCI. From a New Zealand biosecurity perspective, it also allows us to test the suitability of the survey framework and guidelines provided by DEFRA, for future use on NZ sentinel plants growing in the UK.