Dr Mitchell recognised for agricultural research excellence

26 Jul 2023
Agrifutures award recipients pose for a photo
Dr Mitchell (third from right) with former and current AgriFutures scholars from UQ. 

The University of Queensland’s Dr Jaquie Mitchell has been announced as the AgriFutures Researcher of the Year Award Runner Up for 2023.

The accolade acknowledges Dr Mitchell and her team’s work investigating rice varieties for the Riverina region of New South Wales, and their engagement with industry.

“Our pre-breeding project has improved understanding and developed novel methods to characterise thousands of different rice varieties,” Dr Mitchell said.

“We’ve worked hard to determine rice types and valuable traits that will ensure high grain yield for aerobic, non-flooded conditions.

“And we’ve established the importance of varieties with cold temperature tolerance, deep roots, and maintenance of cool canopies, pinpointing the genomic regions contributing to these traits.

“These findings will speed up the development of rice varieties in non-flooded, high yielding temperate production conditions, such as in the Riverina.”

Dr Mitchell said that discovering and developing new rice varieties was critical in an age of climate change.

“Sustainable rice farming is critical in the Riverina,” she said.

“We’ve developed and identified new genetic material that will offer additional cold tolerance, lower production risk, and increased productivity.

“This will have a direct, positive, impact at the farmgate of the Australian rice growers and flow-on effects to industry, and the wider community.”

The award was presented by Cathy McGowan AO at the AgriFutures Australia Stakeholders Summit 2023 Dinner in Cairns.

Also in attendance were the AgriFutures board, the 44 AgriFutures Horizons Scholars, and seven Rural Women’s Awards finalists, along with other industry representatives in attendance to celebrate the win.

Dr Mitchell is extremely grateful for the support and collaboration opportunities offered by AgriFutures Australia.

“AgriFutures Australia provides funding opportunities for researchers to engage directly with industry, which is critical to help solve real world, often-complex issues,” she said.

“Working with them has allowed our team to develop strong industry links and engagement.

“When done well it can result in significant outputs, increased knowledge and understanding, with capacity building opportunities for all involved.

“Receiving awards such as this is an industry acknowledgment of the impact that our work has had – not only in terms of direct outputs, but also recognising meaningful industry collaborations.”    

The team will now redouble their efforts to find and develop more efficient and resilient rice.

“Building on our new industry network, my team will continue to strengthen and grow,” Dr Mitchell said.

“We’re currently doing more pre-breeding activity to pyramid cold temperature tolerance, deep rooting ability and other positive traits, helping contribute to better aerobic adaptation.

“We’re excited to be developing elite Australian genetic backgrounds for high rice yield and improved water productivity.”

Media: Faculty of Science Media, science.media@uq.edu.au, +61 438 162 687.