Where are they now?

Featuring two of our young scientists.

The long term prosperity of the poultry industry depends on its people. An education program that ‘would attract and train the new generation poultry scientists and industry leaders’ won the overwhelming support of our industry participants for the Australian Poultry CRC’s bid in 2003. So, how did our education program fare in meeting this goal?

We supported 26 postgraduate students and 12 postdoctoral scientists, together with three online courses and an internship program. Most of these young scientists are now either working as poultry scientists or in the industry. I will look in depth at two of them, Dr’s Pengju Guo and Mark Geier.

Dr Pengju Guo started his career as a postdoctoral scientist with Dr Andrew Bean of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory of CSIRO on a CRC project entitled Boosting innate immunity and use of cytokines for the enhancement of vaccine efficacy through manipulation of the immune system. After the completion of his postdoctoral study, Pengju joined the Guangdong Institute of Veterinary Medicine in China as the Director of Laboratory of Biotechnology. His laboratory now employs eight research scientists and has a number of PhD students, with funding from the Chinese governments and international companies.

Pengju believes in the power of collaboration and he has established strong ties with numerous international laboratories, especially his colleagues at CSIRO. “The Poultry CRC has given me a good start for my career as it not only trained me in science but also in commercialisation, communication and leadership”, said Pengju. “My postdoctoral research period has given me the springboard to advance my career. More importantly, the links I have with the Australian researchers, in particular my colleagues at CSIRO, will be very beneficial for the development of biotechnology applicable to the agricultural industries in China because the relationship is based on professionalism and trust.” Pengju still keeps a close communication with the Poultry CRC despite his busy schedules these days.

Dr Mark Geier started his career as a research scientist with Dr Bob Hughes at the South Australian R&D Institute (SARDI) in 2005. He initially worked on a Poultry CRC project entitled Understanding gut function and gut health of chickens, which investigated the fundamental aspects of gene expression, immunity, and bird performance.

Mark is now a project leader with the CRC, examining the complex interaction between gut microflora and bird performance in collaboration with a number of CRC participants. “Coming from a physiology and medical background, I appreciate the incredible advances made in poultry science over the past six decades”, said Mark. “Everything has to be spot on in order to optimise all aspects of poultry production today in terms of genetics, nutrition and welfare. The technology required to attain further gains in these areas is therefore challenging, which just draws me to poultry science”.

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