Dr. Lucia M. Borines, professor of VSU’s Department of Pest Management (DPM), was awarded the John Dillon Fellow for 2015.  The fellowship is usually awarded to research collaborators of the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Dr. Borines is the lone fellow from the Philippines among nine others from countries such as China (1), Bangladesh (1), Laos (1), Vietnam (2), Indonesia (2), Papua New Guinea (1) and Samoa (1). She underwent a series of trainings and traveled to different cities and states in Australia from February 15 to March 27, 2015.

The first was a “Research Communication Training” conducted on February 17-20 at Novotel, St. Gilda in Melbourne, Victoria. The training introduced her to the science of research communication such as writing a publishable scientific article, avoidance of plagiarism, how to get research papers to be published, how to respond to reviewers and editors, and other related things. It was conducted by two prominent Australians technical and social scientists, Dr. Margaret Cargill and Dr. Kate Cadman.

The second training was on “The New Leaders Development Program” held on February 23-27 at Mt. Eliza Executive Education, which is part of the Melbourne Business School of the University of Melbourne in Victoria. The training is all about how to become a good leader by first knowing about oneself, learning style, personality type, weaknesses and strengths how to overcome weaknesses to become a good leader, knowing the other people’s personalities, improving communication, problem solving, conflict management, understanding team culture and how to work in a team and lead a team, how to work in your organization and lead an organization. It was conducted by Dr. Edmund King and Dr. Abi O’neill.

The third was an “Agricultural Research Management Workshop” conducted on March 10-13 at the ACIAR office in Canberra, Australia’s Capital City. It was conducted by Dr. Robyn McConchie and Dr. Emma Walters of the University of Sydney.  This training included topics on developing a fundable research proposal, effective research leadership, motivation and teambuilding, management of human resources and finances, acquiring information from databases, managing information and databases, how to develop successful research partnerships, fostering linkages, etc. In Canberra, the fellows were given the chance to visit the Parliament House and were able to attend a parliament hearing with the prime minister and other politicians in Australia. In the same day, the fellows were awarded with their John Dillon certificates by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop herself at the Parliament House. The group also had a chance to visit the John Dillon family (3 generations).

Aside from those trainings, half of the fellows, including Dr. Borines, were given a chance to visit different research stations within Australia, such as the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAF) in different states in Western Australia to learn about their researches, organizational structure, see their laboratory facilities, equipment, visit their experimental trials such as the apple and other stone fruit breeding farms, the grains industry in Australia, animal industry, and many others.  The participants also attended to some seminars at the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, and the University of Sydney that were incorporated in the fellowship.

During the last nine days, the fellows went separate ways to meet with their collaborators in different parts of Australia. Dr. Borines went to Sydney and met with former jackfruit research collaborators, Dr. David Guest and Dr. Rosalie Daniel, who led her to visit the Plant Pathology Diagnostic Laboratory at the Sydney Botanical Garden. The current ACIAR-ICM project leader, Dr. Gordon Rogers, also brought her to the Sydney markets to see various kinds of vegetables and fruits from different areas in Australia for delivery to department stores and other market outlets. 

Dr. Borines also traveled to Yanco Agricultural Institute in Narrandera, Australia, the station where another ACIAR-ICM project leader, Dr. Sandra MacDougall, is connected.  Narandera is a typical Australian outback where hundreds of huge irrigated farmlands planted to grapes,  rice, melons, oranges, canola, wheat, cotton and other crops are located. In that place, Dr. Borines was able to experience the site of kangaroos really in the wild.  During the last two days in Australia, she traveled back to Sydney and had short hands-on laboratory training on RNA extraction and RT-PCR analysis for the detection of plant viruses at the Elizabeth MacArthur Agricultural Research Institute in Cambden Valley in New South Wales before her return flight to the Philippines.