Scientists in the news this week: May 29, 2020

Here's the latest update of University of Adelaide scientists in the news, for the week ending May 29, 2020.

*Indicates subscriber only articles

Associate Professor Glenn McDonald

Agriculture, food and wine

Seedquest and Flurosat featured the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine’s use of FluroSense to educate students and connect them to industry.

Associate Professor Glenn McDonald (pictured) is quoted throughout the article discussing the use of FluroSense and its applications for a new generation of agronomists.

Professor Matt Gilliham, Director of the Waite Research Institute interviewed with ABC Eyre Peninsula and West Coast about the new $7 million South Australia Genomic Centre. Professor Gilliham said the centre will turn the city into a national hub for studying genes in the environment and agriculture sectors and will accelerate advancements.

An international team of scientists, including Dr Stefanie Wege from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, have identified a gene variation that influences sodium content in barley crops. This could aid in the advancement of the development of barley varieties with greater yield and better resilience to varying salt conditions. These findings were published on

Stock & Land shared that Associate Professor Gurjeet Gill will present at the BCG free annual crop walk on the trial focused on the integrated weed management practices for brome grass management in canola.

Ongoing coverage in Stock Journal, The Land, and Australian Cotton and Grains Outlook of the findings of Chris Penfold and Jake Howie’s three-year trial on pig waste. Their research found that incorporating pig waste prior to seeding had no additional benefits over leaving it on top of the soil.

Continuing coverage of Dr Maarten Ryder’s advice about inoculating legumes in Australian Cotton and Grains Outlook.

Continuing coverage in New Scientist of Head of School Professor Martin Cole addressing the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on food affordability and access for millions of people globally. Professor Martin Cole will discuss this further at a webinar hosted by the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) on June 2.


Echidna research

Biological sciences

The Adelaide Advertiser published a call for locals on Kangaroo Island to report sightings of echidnas and collect their scats.

PhD candidate Tahlia Perry discusses the difficulty of observing these animals and the need for locals help in the Echidna CSI’s (Conservation Science Initiative) new project which aims to gather important information on how last summer’s bushfires affected these echidnas.

Earth news, and Australia’s Science Channel covered the research of experts who have mapped the global genetic diversity of mammals. Associate Professor Damien Fordham and Dr Stuart Brown from the Environment Institute are co-authors of this study.

Research by PhD candidates Jacob Mills and Caitlin Selway with Dr Nicholas Gellie, Professors Andrew Lowe and Philip Weinstein and Associate Professor Laura Weyrich featured heavily in the news this week.

The study which found that planting trees and gardening has the ability to restore the natural diversity of soil microbes, which has potential human health benefits, was covered by the Adelaide Advertiser, The Sydney Morning Herald, Newswise, lifeboat and Knowridge.

A trial of the Felixer, an autonomous device that can distinguish non-target animals and identify and eliminate feral cats, has been found to be a promising new method to control and reduce the negative impact that feral cats have had on native species. Dr John Read was the inventor of the Felixer and a co-author on a new paper discussed on

Dr Bruno Simões and Associate Professor Kate Sanders were involved in a collaborative study which discovered that since sea snakes first entered the marine environment 15 millions years ago, they have been evolving over generations to be able to see underwater and survive in constantly changing environments. These findings have been published across multiple channels since being released today.


Students and alumni

Agriculture graduate Molly O’Dea featured in the *Whitsunday Times, Whitsunday Coast Guardian and Daily Mercury. This was for her passion to create more connectivity between young farmers in Proserpine through a new farming organisation which she created, named ‘Proserpine Young Farmers’. Molly also dabbles in Zumba and you can join in her classes if that's your thing.

Wine alumni Richard Freebairn’s wine 'Paxton 2017 The Pollinator Shiraz' featured in the Newcastle Herald.

Palaeontologist Trevor Worthy talks to the Sunday Mail about hunting for giant bird fossils. Associate Professor Worthy is a PhD graduate of the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA.


Tagged in Research, Engagement and Industry, Student & Graduate Stories, Scientists in the News, School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, School of Agriculture Food and Wine, School of Physical Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, Waite Research Institute, Environment Institute, Agriculture, Viticulture and Oenology, Environmental Science, Marine Biology, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Palaeontology