Where are they now? Matt Denton-Giles

It has been almost been a decade (2011) since I received the NZPPS Research Scholarship. As an awardee, I was encouraged to attend and present a poster at the annual NZPPS conference in Nelson. This was my first real introduction to the New Zealand plant pathology community and it helped me to expand my network and appreciate the role of the NZPPS community in New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture industries. Up to this point in my career, I had had little interaction with industry and the conference really helped me to clarify my future aspirations.

Following my PhD studies, I was offered a post-doc position at the Center for Crop and Disease Management (CCDM) in Western Australia. My task at the CCDM was to screen Brassica napus mapping populations for Sclerotinia stem-rot resistance. As part of my role, I connected directly with agronomists and farmers, something I found very inspiring. I learnt that farmers have excellent scientific minds and I’d often finish a ‘wheat-belt’ trip with a list of new hypotheses.

In 2018, I took the opportunity to return to New Zealand and work as a field scientist for Corteva AgriScience in Taranaki. I spend my time studying the effects of new crop-protection products on a variety of plant-pathogen/insect interactions. My current role gives me the opportunity to positively contribute to the sustainability of New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture industries, something that I was first introduced to back in 2011 as an NZPPS Research Scholarship recipient.

I encourage eligible students to apply for the NZPPS Research Scholarship and attend the annual NZPPS conference. It is New Zealand’s premier plant protection conference and it serves as an excellent gateway for young scientists to develop their own career networks.

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