The impact of Maggie Gill

September 5th, 2018

We have been delighted to have Dr Margaret Gill (Maggie) spend time with us while she was visiting Brisbane from July to September 2018.

Maggie is a Professor of Integrated Land Use at Aberdeen University spending 30% of her time seconded to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation as chair of the Independent Science and Partnership Council of the CGIAR as well as Chair of an EU Think-tank for Food 2030 and Chair of a Science Advisory Panel for the “Our Land and Water” National Science Challenge in New Zealand.

Maggie has had a varied career in agricultural sciences starting with research in ruminant nutrition before broadening her interests to the impact of agriculture on the environment and subsequently managing and advising on interdisciplinary research.

Maggie has had a long time connection with Mario Herrero, leader of the CSIRO Global Food and Nutrition Security group – she was the external examiner for his PhD and since then they have met at meetings in many countries of the world!

Mario and Maggie – 1997 and 2018.

Maggie was particularly keen to visit the Global Food and Nutrition Security group in Brisbane to explore opportunities for future collaboration in the area of the trade-offs (human health, environment, nutrient production and economic) associated with food production between crop and livestock systems on different types of land. She has gleaned lots of ideas from her visit which go far beyond the original interest, such as the use of spatial maps in assessing the strategic relevance of research more systematically and thinking about how science and policy interact in changing food systems.

Maggie participated in a range of activities during her time in Australia. She chaired a session at the Crawford Fund Conference in Canberra and visited Melbourne to attend AgCatalyst, which showcases CSIRO’s most innovative research in Agriculture and Food. She was a keen participant in meetings with Global Food and Nutrition Security group visitors from GALVmed, Supporting Evidence-Based Interventions (SEBI), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Maggie also built connections with a range of researchers, including those in the CSIRO Livestock Genomics group led by Sigrid Lehnert, and AgResearch from New Zealand. Maggie also held a ‘Lunch for Ladies in Science’ to discuss whether there are particular challenges for women in science today and are there any lessons to be learnt from the past.

Maggie gave a number of presentations about impact pathway in research. Her 20 plus years’ experience in managing and advising on research has enabled her to clearly articulate what constitutes impact, the steps needed to achieve impact in research, and the spheres over which researchers have control. Important stuff for any researcher wanting to have real impact. Check out Maggie’s impact summary below.

But Maggie’s visit was also about being on holiday…. She counts herself very fortunate that Mario and other friends took her outside of Brisbane to visit two National Parks, a beach, a local farming area and gave her the opportunity to visit friends in Armidale – although the cooler temperatures down there reminded her of her home in Scotland. She will finish her visit with a trip to Western Australia to look at wild flowers and catch up with friends.

Maggie’s presence has greatly enriched our group – we look forward to Maggie’s return.

Photo credits: Jeda Palmer, Mario Herrero, and Maggie Gill.