Plant pathology - management of crop disease in horticulture and field crops; soil ecology - mycorrhizal fungi and their management; computer use in plant pathology - disease forecasting systems; cell biology.
What I do
I lecture in the field of Integrated Pest Management, that is the integration of a range of control measures (cultural, physical, biological, chemical) for the management of pests (pathogens, weeds, insects and vertebrates) in cropping and conservation areas. For ten years (1990 - 2000) I also delivered first year biology courses (Biology, Cell Biology & Applied Biology) on this campus.
I have been a supervisor to twelve postgraduate students (three Masters level, nine PhD) with five currently active and the remainder having submitted their theses.
My research is specifically in the field of Plant Pathology, that is, the study of plant disease processes, the organisms that cause them and the development of strategies for their management. Currently I have projects on sorghum ergot disease, root diseases of Geraldton wax flower, net & spot blotch of barley, fusarium wilt of bananas and coffee berry diseases among others. I have also conducted research on the beneficial Arbuscular Mycorrhizal (AM) fungi of horticultural crops. I am currently collaborating with Dr Elizabeth Minchinton on a project to develop a disease forecasting system for downy mildew in spring onions in Victoria and have several successful projects in collaboration with other plant pathologists working for the Queensland Department of Primary Industries (QDPI).
Currently I am developing projects utilising molecular techniques to improve the understanding of plant pathogenic processes in conjunction with Dr Paul Scott.
I sit on various school, faculty and university committees and currently chair the NRAVS faculty Occupational Health & Safety Committee.
I graduated in 1983 with honours in a Bachelor of (Biological) Science from La Trobe University (Melbourne) majoring in both Botany and Zoology. I then went on to commence my Ph.D. program in plant pathology in the School of Agriculture with Professor Terry Price (also at La Trobe University). I studied the fungal plant pathogen Microdochium panattonianum, the causal agent of anthracnose disease in lettuce (Lactuca sativa). I performed detailed studies of the morphology, infection processes, determined mechanisms for survival in the field, screened the complete spectrum of available lettuce cultivars for resistance genes and performed spatial mapping of epidemics in commercial crops.
In 1987 I was appointed as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Research School of Biological Sciences (Australian National University) with Dr Peter Dart. I was involved in a range of projects investigating the use of beneficial soil microorgansims as bio-protection agents against root and foliar pathogens of crops such as sunflower, sorghum and carnation. In 1988 Dr Dart moved from Canberra to the University of Queensland (St Lucia) and I commenced duties as a lecturer in Plant Pathology in the Department of Plant Protection at the Queensland Agricultural College - Gatton (now known as the University of Queensland Gatton)