Women leading and influencing

Aloesi and Emma

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Aloesi Dakuidreketi

PhD - Plant Pathology
University of Queensland, QLD

 is in her final year of a doctorate at the University of Queensland, where she is conducting research into plant pathology. Her research focuses on exploiting the use of plant activators to induce resistance against Alternaria solani (a foliar fungal pathogen), to improve tomato production for smallholder farmers in Fiji. Upon completion of her degree, she will be able to identify a feasible alternative to the use of synthetic fungicides, which will greatly assist Fijian smallholder farmers.

Aloesi started her career as a high school science teacher; a role that she found very rewarding, especially as she was helping children to enhance their knowledge. During her 11 years in this role, she had the opportunity to be the head of several schools' agricultural science departments and she realised that she had a passion for agricultural research. She took up a position at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) as a Plant Health Field Coordinator and she was given the opportunity to lead a project team on an ACIAR-funded Integrated Crop Management project.

In her role at SPC, Aloesi has already been active in informally mentoring women in agricultural extension, encouraging them to step up and to be more active in taking on leadership roles. Aloesi would like to encourage women who are working in Fiji's male-dominated agricultural sector and to support these women to bring out their potential, to make them feel that their contribution is valued, and have them realise that they are important within this sector. She would also like to build the capacity of women farmers so that they play a more active role in agribusiness throughout the value chain.


Emma Mace

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, ACT

 career to date has focused on the use of molecular tools to support the conservation and utilisation of plant genetic resources, with a specific focus in the last 15 years of applying genomics tools to support plant improvement programs.

Emma has held post-doctoral research positions in Kenya, India and Australia, each of which was focused on the application of genomics technologies to support plant breeding programs and germplasm collections. She also has trained and mentored visiting scientists, PhD and MSc students, and technical officers.

Emma joined the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as a team leader role and worked on molecular breeding activities to support the barley improvement program. Her role has expanded to include management of a large team across sorghum and barley genomics groups, and she leads the genomics components of multiple interdisciplinary projects.

Recently, in Ethiopia, Emma provided formal training and mentorship for crop improvement teams as well as informal teaching and guidance on multiple crop improvement related activities.

Emma is particularly passionate about being able to significantly contribute to improving food security in the developing world through training and mentoring.