Tall Poppy success sown in Murdoch agriculture research

November 2, 2017

Dr Sofie De Meyer

Tall Poppy: Dr Sofie De Meyer has been honoured for her research achievement and leadership potential

Murdoch University agricultural researcher Dr Sofie De Meyer has been named as one of Western Australia’s best young scientists.

The early career researcher from the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences is one of five to be recognised at the state ceremony of the prestigious Tall Poppy Science Awards later today.

Dr De Meyer has been a post doctoral fellow in Murdoch’s Centre for Rhizobium Studies since 2012. She has contributed to hugely important translational research into a South African legume plant called Lebeckia that is drought tolerant and can be used to feed livestock in the hot summer months.

In the last 18 months, she has also started her own business – MALDIID Pty Ltd – a root nodule bacteria identification service for farmers and institutes to improve their legume performance.

Legumes supply nutrition and a safe shelter for bacteria that fix nitrogen, delivering this to plants and enabling them to grow in nitrogen-limited conditions.

Dr De Meyer said the award was a confirmation that she is on the right track with her research, and that it is valued by her peers in research and industry.

“As researchers we enjoy and are passionate about what we do. Awards like this confirm that others feel the same way, and the hard work is worthwhile,” Dr De Meyer said.

“The support I have from my mentors and colleagues Dr Graham O’ Hara and Professor John Howieson is amazing. I have known them since 2009, when I met them at a conference and that is how I came to be in Australia. I collaborated with them during my PhD, and then they were able to offer me a post doctoral fellowship.

“Career highlights include winning a grant which took me to South Africa in 2013, giving me the opportunity to study Lebeckia in its native environment.

“Being part of a team which won an ARC Linkage grant to investigate Lebeckia further, which included my contributions, was a great boost.”

Dr De Meyer said tackling the problems faced by Australian farmers in a drying climate is what helps to keep her motivated despite the challenges she has faced as a female in a male dominated industry.

“It is still difficult as a woman in agriculture, especially in WA,” she said.

“But the farmers are the ones who keep us on track. We are helping them to become more sustainable and to find the solutions to their problems. We can change their lives with what we are doing.”

Dr De Meyer said her main advice to aspiring scientists would be to find a great mentor and to keep believing in themselves.

“Learning from and collaborating with a successful scientist is brilliant. And if you love your research, it will keep you going,” she said.

“My ambitions include obtaining my own major grant, for example, being a chief investigator on an Australian Research Council grant.

“With my company, the goal is to have it listed in the top 40 under 40 in Australia. I know it’s going to be tough to achieve but this aim will keep pushing me to succeed.”

The Tall Poppy Science Awards are run by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science to honour up and coming scientists who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science.

Young Tall Poppies are nominated by their peers and are early career researchers aged 35 or under. Selection is based on research achievement and leadership potential.

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Comments (2 responses)

Dr. Zahid November 7, 2017

Excellent job
Lots of Congratulation
Keep it up Dr De Meyer and Good luck

Manickam November 10, 2017

Hey super, well done. All the best.

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