Polish scientist studies pest management in Australian crops


It might be on the other side of the world from his native Poland but CSU in Wagga Wagga is the perfect place for microbiologist Dr Jakub Baranek to further his research.

It might be on the other side of the world from his native Poland but Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Wagga Wagga is the perfect place for microbiologist Dr Jakub Baranek to further his research.

Dr Baranek, from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland, has spent the past four months at CSU's School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences as part of an Endeavour Research Fellowship. He is working in collaboration with NSW Department of Primary Industries scientist Dr Mark Stevens and CSU Professor Gavin Ash.

"My research in Poland has focused on the Bacillus thuringiensis - bacteria used as bioinsecticides in agriculture, horticulture and forestry. This fellowship has allowed me to work with Charles Sturt University researchers, who are leaders in the pest management field, and expand my expertise," said Dr Baranek.

While at CSU his research has focused on the Metarhizium fungus, which is used as a biological control of pest insects in Australian crops.

"My research is building on previous work undertaken at Charles Sturt University to increase our knowledge about the virulence of Metarhizium," Dr Baranek said.

"The aim is to identify the genes that make the fungus an effective pathogen, this will help us select more virulent strains of Metarhizium for the management of a range of insect pests in Australia."

Head of the School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Professor Ash said, "Agricultural research undertaken at Charles Sturt University is world leading and is attracting scientific attention from around the globe.

"Dr Baranek is using cutting edge, molecular technology that has never been used in this way before to help us understand and select biocontrol agents which will be at the forefront of ecological insect management in Australia in the future."

Dr Baranek is enthusiastic about the benefits of combining international travel and study.

"You can see how things work in other places and the exchange of thoughts and ideas is always positive," he said.

"I've been very impressed with how efficiently the research is carried out here and how quickly things can happen from the design of the research proposal through to the project.

"Living and working in Wagga Wagga in regional Australia has been a highlight. Everyone's very friendly and I've enjoyed meeting people from around the world who all work here at the University.

"It's like a multicultural hub.

"I've also tried vegemite, however my first impression was, softly speaking, not very satisfying. Only later it became clear that it shouldn't be spread in a one centimetre layer. Now I think I'm getting used to it."

Media Note:

Contact CSU Media to arrange interviews.

Endeavour Fellowships are internationally competitive, merit-based scholarships provided by the Australian government that support citizens around the world to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia.

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