QLD scientist's fight against fruit flies wins fellowship
A QUEENSLAND scientist is looking at ways farmers and pastoralists can better defend their crops from an outbreak of a devastating pest that causes millions worth of damage to the agriculture industry each year.
Dr Mark Schutze, who has been awarded a Smithsonian Fellowship, will travel to the United States to work with experts at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington to learn more about fruit flies.
Fruit flies are prevalent across fruit growing regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Queensland Science Minister Ian Walker, who announced the fellowship to mark the start of National Science Week, said on Sunday fruit flies posed a significant risk to the state's multi-million fruit industry.
He said Dr Schutze was one of five scientists to be awarded a fellowship this year.
"What Dr Schutze learns and the knowledge he brings back will be important if we have to face this threat again to protect our fruit industry," he said.
"Fruit flies are a major pest of subtropical and tropical horticulture in the Americas and it is vital we have the knowledge to know what we are dealing with and how to control them.
"Fruit flies devastated Queensland's tropical fruit industry in 1995 which affected more than 700 growers, cost $33.5 million and took nearly four years to eradicate."
Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said National Science Week gives Australians the opportunity to learn more about the many ways science improves our health, benefits our communities and ignites new ways of thinking.
"National Science Week has an impressive record of revealing the wonders of science to Australians in a range of interesting ways," he said.
"Science is at the heart of our society, and it will also be at the centre of Australia's next round of invention, medical breakthroughs and exciting new products and jobs."
National Science Week, which runs until August 24, is a week-long event that will be celebrated in more than 1500 events held in towns, cities and communities across the nation.
Queensland is the only government in the world that has a formal agreement with the Smithsonian Institute on science and innovation collaboration.