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Using Light To Help Feed the World

Thursday, September 10, 2015

As part of Science week The Hermitage Research Station presented the Science Forum – Lets Talk About Science: Using Light to Help Feed the World at the School’s Vijayadev Yogendra Auditorium.

Students from Scots College, Assumption College and the Glasshouse Christian College as well as our own students were treated to huge doses of science enthusiasm from the keynote speakers and the panel of local scientists from the Hermitage, who are all leaders in their fields.

Professor John Evans from ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis at ANU spoke on Photosynthesis: the most important chemical reaction in the world', followed by Dr Andrew Borrell, Associate Professor, UQ and Principal Research Fellow/Centre leader (Hermitage Research Facility) who spoke on 'Food for Our Future: Science Feeding the World'.

Prof Evans boldly proclaimed  “Photosynthesis is the most important biological process to have arisen in the evolution of the Earth, producing the oxygen we breathe, the food we eat and the climate we live in today.”

It was great to have these left of field challenges to the students that really gave them something to think about.   He went on to explain how understanding photosynthesis can lead to increasing the yield of important food crops to address global food shortages in a changing world climate.

The attending panelists did their best to answer questions about the environment, sustainability, and loving your work.

Dr Borrell spoke about the issues to be addressed if we are to feed the projected 9 billion people who will be living on earth by 2050, in the face of an already existing global food shortage.

Panelists Dr David Jordan, Professor in Genetics and Plant Breeding (The University of Queensland) Dr Emma Mace Senior Research Scientist (DAF), Dr  Barbara George- Jaeggli, Research Scientist (DAF/The University of Queensland) responded to student questions and spoke passionately about science, especially Biology as a career.

The predominant message from the panellists was that the best job is not the one that pays the most, but rather the one you enjoy doing the most. So, do what you love.

 Students from most attending schools had a panel representative to ask the researchers about their work.

Messages that students took with them from the forum:

  • Photosynthesis is the most important chemical reaction.
  • Batteries and photosynthesis have much in common!
  • World impacting research is being done at the Hermitage to improve the lives of the world’s hungry people.
  • Food wastage is a major problem and a major part of the solution to feeding the future population will be to reduce food waste.
  • Food production must be increased significantly to cope with increased population.
  • Eating more plants and less meat makes an important contribution to using soil and water resources more efficiently to produce food.
  • Modify eating habits to include less meat in ones diet to increase sustainability.
  • Be curious; investigate. 
  • Follow your interest and enthusiasm and choose subjects at school and university that you love.
  • Be willing to travel to seek work.
  • Do voluntary work in the areas that you are enthused about; don’t be afraid to travel to do it.
  • Be enthusiastically proactive in searching out opportunities.
  • Team-work is extremely important and a major part of science.
  • Travel appears to be a big part of science.
  • Working as a scientist, especially a young scientist wanting to progress and work in areas of interest involves traveling to places like Africa and remote islands.
  • You need to be willing to take opportunities that arise to progress as a scientist.
  • A scientific career is internationally recognised and needed around the world.


Many thanks to the wonderful scientists at the Hermitage Research Station  for bringing these great speakers to Warwick to inspire and enthuse our students.


Mrs Judy Currie

Deputy Principal

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