Scientist driving change

By Country News

Agriculture Victoria dairy research scientist Jo Newton has been named as a finalist in the 2018 Young Achiever Awards for her work fostering change in the Australian dairy industry through the adoption of genetic tools and technologies.

Dr Newton is one of three finalists out of 60 young people nominated under the Leadership Award category for the 2018 awards, with the winner to be announced at a gala dinner on Friday.

She currently works for Agriculture Victoria researching the ImProving Herds Project, which aims to determine the contribution of herd improvement to the Australian dairy industry.

‘‘I grew up in suburban Melbourne and was introduced to agriculture through my experiences at Tintern Grammar’s on-campus farm,’’ Dr Newton said.

‘‘Work experience in high school helped me set my sights on an agricultural degree and I moved interstate to study for a Bachelor of Rural Science.’’

Dr Newton also completed her PhD in animal breeding and genetics before taking on her role with the Victorian Government.

‘‘I saw the position advertised, and the chance to work on an applied multi-disciplinary project in livestock genetics with direct engagement with industry was exactly what I was looking for.

‘‘Working in agriculture means we are in a fast-growing sector; couple that with the digital revolution and a strong demand for graduates — it all makes for an exciting future in agriculture.’’

Dr Newton believes Australia has a strong track record when it comes to delivering cutting edge research, but there is room for improvement with its transfer of knowledge.

She encouraged other young people to get into agriculture, particularly young women.

‘‘Agriculture is still a male-dominated industry, and being mentored by strong female role models early in my career, including my manager and PhD supervisor, has certainly played an important role in my development.

‘‘I feel honoured to have been selected as a finalist; young people may only be 20 per cent of our current population but we are the future.

‘‘I really hope to use this spotlight to promote the diverse career pathways and wonderful opportunities in the agricultural sector.’’