Awards bring rewards for young innovators and grain growers

Author: | Date: 04 Oct 2018

image of Dr Sofie De Meyer
Dr Sofie De Meyer, the recipient of the 2018 GRDC-sponsored Science and Innovation grains award. Applications for the 2019 awards close on October 12, 2018. Photo: Steve Keough Photography

The Grains Research and Development Corporation’s investment in young innovators, researchers and scientists continues to produce win-win outcomes.

The GRDC’s sponsorship of the Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (applications for the 2019 awards are closing soon) is furthering the careers of award recipients while generating advances for grain growers and the broader industry.

Take, for instance, the recipient of the 2018 GRDC-sponsored grains award, Sofie De Meyer.

Dr De Meyer is chief executive of MALDI-ID, a Western Australia-based company which has developed leading-edge diagnostic technology that will next year become available to assist grain legume growers wanting to optimise crop yields through the use of the most appropriate rhizobia inoculants.

The company’s work to better understand whether the “wrong” rhizobia are holding back crop performance has been made possible in part due to GRDC investment in the company through the 2018 Science and Innovation Awards.

The new technology from MALDI-ID draws on laser-based mass spectrometry techniques that allow the company to type rhizobia in root nodules based on electromagnetic differences in their proteins.

“We create a database of these signatures and use it to type old, new and naturalised rhizobia present in the root nodule samples,” Dr De Meyer said.

“We then use that data to make recommendations that help to optimise the fertiliser effect provided by the nitrogen-fixing bacteria.”

Dr De Meyer has no hesitation in encouraging young grains industry researchers to enter the 2019 Science and Innovation Awards, having benefited enormously from the support she has received from the GRDC.

GRDC Head of Corporate Affairs, Kylie Dunstan, says the organisation’s support of the Science and Innovation Awards, run by Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, has paid dividends over the years.

“The GRDC strongly encourages innovation and forward-thinking in the grains industry to benefit our grain growers – and the recipients of the Science and Innovation grains awards have certainly delivered in that regard,” Ms Dunstan said.

“The grains industry offers incredible opportunities for young people forging a career in science and research and the GRDC is proud to assist them in their endeavours through this initiative.”

The Science and Innovation Awards are aimed at 18 to 35-year-old innovators, researchers, scientists and others active in the agriculture sector who have a passion for driving the ongoing success and sustainability of Australia’s agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries.

In total, 13 industry Science Award categories are available this year, with each offering a grant of $22,000.

The categories cover grains; cotton; dairy; eggs and poultry (layers); established, new and emerging rural industries; fisheries and aquaculture; forest and wood products; health and biosecurity; meat and livestock; pork; red meat processing; viticulture and oenology; and wool.

Each category is supported by the Science Award partners – research and development corporations, CSIRO and industry organisations.

Applications for the 2019 awards close on October 12, 2018.

For more information and to apply, go to For enquiries contact

Contact Details

For Interviews

Kylie Dunstan, GRDC
0428 864 934


Sharon Watt, GRDC
0409 675 100