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Curtin and Murdoch welcome inaugural Premier’s Fellow in Agriculture and Food

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An internationally accomplished scientist will take up the inaugural Premier’s Fellow in Agriculture and Food, in a partnership between Curtin and Murdoch universities and jointly funded with the Science and Agribusiness Connect initiative, made possible by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.

Dr Simon Cook, an expert in agricultural systems and natural resource management, will build and lead a research team in WA to develop the State’s capabilities in big data and agriculture.

Dr Cook’s experience in applying data science and technologies to help solve applied problems at regional and farm levels will be an important aspect of his appointment.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said she was delighted that Curtin had been awarded this Fellowship in partnership with Murdoch.

“Curtin has a very strong track record of research in agriculture and data science, and we see these areas as priorities for the State, and look forward to continuing to build this capability alongside Murdoch University,” Professor Terry said.

“Agriculture data analytics is an important enabling step for the future of the agriculture industry as it will assist with better decision making and risk management for agriculture producers and the ongoing viability of the industry.

“The strong support that Dr Cook received for this appointment from local and national agriculture stakeholders and industry, demonstrates the important value they each place on translation of research activities into applied outcomes.”

Murdoch University Vice-Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen said Murdoch believes in engaging with global challenges like food security and in the translation of new knowledge into practice, so Dr Cook’s appointment is good news for agriculture at a state, national and international level.

“Murdoch is one of the most agriculturally focussed universities in Australia, with a 40 year history in agricultural science,” Professor Leinonen said.

Dr Cook has a career spanning 25 years with experience in research management to support precision agriculture, information-rich natural resource use and agricultural development.

He said he welcomed the challenge and looked forward to working with the Government of WA, the industry and both universities to deliver true impact for the broad WA agriculture community.

“The agriculture industry now has access to large volumes of data that it didn’t have before. The challenge is to translate the data availability into improved decision making capability, both on farm and within the supply chain. This is essential if agriculture is to keep ahead of increasing pressure to deliver food security, while maintaining the natural resource base on which it depends.

“This is a one-off opportunity for WA to draw together the many excellent researchers and practitioners that operate around the theme of big data and analytics to deliver outcomes that will support agribusiness and the State,” Dr Cook said.

The Premier’s Fellow in Agriculture and Food is the centrepiece of the Science and Agribusiness Connect initiative, administered by the Office of Science and made possible by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.

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