Animal science graduates win top agriculture honours

April 6, 2016

Laura Grubb (left) and Maddison CorlettMurdoch University animal science graduates Maddison Corlett and Laura Grubb have won top honours in the state’s Young Professionals in Agriculture Forum.

Maddison won the overall award for her research paper and presentation on whether increasing the proportion of biserrula (legume) chaff in the diet of sheep could reduce methane production.

Laura was awarded best presentation for her examination of the impact of mycotoxin consumption on the incidence of dark cutting in cattle. Dark cutting affects the look and taste of beef.

The annual forum recognises the work of students who have completed an undergraduate degree at a Western Australian university and is hosted by the Ag Institute Australia (WA Division) and supported by the Department of Agriculture and Food.

Maddison said she was encouraged to enter by her supervisors Associate Professor Andrew Thompson at Murdoch University and Dr Peter Hutton at University of Western Australia.

“First place is a distinguished award that only a few from Murdoch University have won previously,” she said.

“Being a part of the competition was a great experience and I would encourage other students doing honours to apply. It’s a great way to get recognition for your work.”

Maddison is now working on her PhD project at Murdoch and is being funded by a Cooperative Research Centre scholarship to investigate consumer perceptions towards the colour of lamb and yearling meat.

She was recently named the regional winner for Asia Pacific in the undergraduate category in the Alltech Young Scientist Competition, and will travel to Lexington, Kentucky in the United States, to attend the Alltech Ideas Conference in May.

Laura has also been a stand out student at Murdoch. She advocated for a greater youth voice in agriculture as the 2015 Angus Youth Beef Australia Scholar and was involved in the 2015 Youth Ag Summit in Canberra. This resulted in her attending the UN Committee on Food Security in Rome last year.

Her study used data obtained from 3,185 head of cattle from Tasmania, accumulated between March and June 2015. Results suggest that decreasing the consumption of ochratoxin A would minimise dark cutting beef but suggested further studies were required with a more extensive sampling period.

Murdoch’s Associate Professor Graham Gardner said Laura and Maddison were great examples of the quality students being produced through the University’s animal science course.

He said: “Their projects had strong industry connection and their success highlights the industry relevance of the broader research programs being driven by their honours supervisors – in Maddison's case, Andrew Thompson, and for Laura, Peter McGilchrist.”

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