Biosecurity & Biotechnology

Boosting integrative social risk and economic vulnerability analyses, decision-making and productivity capacity of Australian plant and animal industries through social, economic and institutional innovations, with a focus on biosecurity prevention, resilience, response/adaptation behaviours and development of innovative (bio)technologies.

Australia relies on strong biosecurity to ensure its continued contribution to global export markets and global food security. Our work in this area contributes to sustainable prosperity for communities in Australia and our region, with a focus on individual and community well-being and regional stability.

Our team engages in the core business of social and economic science collaboration on projects involving the management of biosecurity threats to agriculture using traditional biosecurity methods, as well as classical and novel biocontrol approaches. Research comprises risk and vulnerability analyses, economic prioritisation, public attitudes, and behaviour change. As part of our research, we develop novel social and economic tools, models, and frameworks for managing biological hazards to the ecosystem across different levels of decision making.

Managing Biosecurity Threats

Working with Australian and International industry partners to develop novel social and economic tools, models, and frameworks for managing biological hazards to the ecosystem across different levels of decision making to ensure sustainable agro- and bioeconomies.

Enhancing Agricultural Industry Resilience

Contributing to the current and future resilience of Australian agricultural industries through promoting responsible bioengineering and disease detection and resilience, in the face of growing biosecurity threats and increased global trade.

Research foci within our priority areas:

  1. Enabling Australian agricultural industries to better plan for emergencies and subsequent recovery, including surveillance and monitoring of biodiversity and ecosystem change (e.g. animal movements and disease spread modelling, and supply chain resilience). This includes prioritisation of evidence-based animal disease research and development, such as an Australian case study applying measures of Global Burden of Animal Disease (GBADs) for prioritisation of disease work, making use of tools developed for the FMD Ready project.
  2. Innovative disease management using gene technologies (including highly novel synthetic biology and gene drive approaches) for pest management, rapid on-farm disease diagnostics, antimicrobial stewardship, enhanced disease management through selective or optimised breeding – emergent area
  3. Novel biotechnology for engineering environmental resilience, increased productivity and disease resilience, such as enhanced crops, genetically enhanced or designed animals. We are contributing to the creation and fostering of a step-change in national Synthetic Biology social science capability to enable the creation of new industries and reinvention of existing industries via transformative synbio technology – emergent area

THE TEAM

Senior Research Scientist - Team Leader, Psychology, Behavioural science and survey experimentation

Collins, Kerry

Experimental Scientist, Agricultural Science, Natural Resource Management
Research Scientist, Social science, Sociological institutional analyses

Mwebaze, Paul

Research Scientist, Agricultural Economics, Economic modelling and analyses

Walter Okelo

Research Scientist, Animal science and Economics, Applied epidemiology and economic modelling
Alison McLennan
Affiliate, Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform Recipient
Michelle Rourke
Affiliate, Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform Future Science Fellow. Access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources under the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity, its Nagoya Protocol
Kirsty Wissing
CSIRO Early Research Career Postdoctoral Fellow, Anthropology, Indigenous sciences

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