A ‘Meet the Scientists’ event held in Innisfail on Monday evening (6th November) was promoted via local media and the project’s Facebook page and attracted a healthy crowd of inquisitive locals.
Hungry for anything and everything Prof Scott Ritchie (JCU), Dr Nigel Beebe (CSIRO and UQ) and Dr Nigel Snoad (Debug) could tell them, from identifying mozzies in their back-yard to understanding how far in the world the work in Innisfail may reach, the audience hung on every word the scientists had to say, and impressed the experts with their questions.
Dr Nigel Snoad (pictured above), Product Manager for the Debug Project at Verily is based at Verily headquarters in San Francisco and said he was overwhelmed by the interest in the study and support for the research.
“I spend a lot of my time in the lab, meeting with engineers, talking technology and fine-tuning how we can successfully rear and release millions of sterile non-biting male mosquitoes. It was so encouraging and exciting to come to Innisfail 12 months after we briefed Council on our intention to carry out this study and have such a warm welcome from a very enthusiastic community,” Dr Snoad said.
Before the public event, members of the project advisory group, made up of community members, met with the CSIRO team and the project’s visiting scientists. The group passed a motion that endorsed the support of the group, on behalf of the Innisfail community, for the research to proceed. Councillor Jeff Baines is chair of the Project Advisory Group.
“We have been talking about, and been excited about, this research for 12 months now, the next six months will be even more exciting as the studies are rolled out,” Cnr Baines said.
“If successful I believe the information generated by Debug Innisfail not only has the potential to improve the health, safety and wellbeing of residents in the Cassowary Coast but also has the potential to expand into regions far beyond.”
The project team is now preparing for studies to begin in the coming weeks which will involve releasing sterile male non-biting mosquitoes, testing new technology in the Debug Innisfail Mosquito release van (pictured).