+61 2 9265 0700 apc2023@arinex.com.au

Keynote speakers

The Australian Pulse 2023 Organising Committee is proud to announce the following keynote speakers.

David Herridge

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David Herridge is currently an Adjunct Professor, School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale. For the 11 years prior to that, he was Research Professor, Soil Productivity, UNE, and the 40 years prior to that was with the NSW Department of Primary Industries. During his research career, Professor Herridge focussed on nitrogen management in Australian farming systems, with particular emphasis on legume inoculation and the N benefits of nodulated, N-fixing legumes. He has also had a long involvement in Australian-funded aid projects in South and South-east Asia to improve legume productivity and N benefits in local farming systems.

Rebecca Ford

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Rebecca is a collaborative, interdisciplinary and outcome focused research leader. Her broad focus is to improve sustainability of food production systems, in developing and implementing novel tools for informed disease management and selective breeding. She has helped with the breeding of new varieties of lentil and chickpea with resistance to major fungal pathogens. She has also developed novel molecular tools for early and precise pathogen diagnostics. This has directly led to the training of the next generation of agricultural industry professionals, increased productivity, and economic returns to the growers, and improved environmental impacts through reduced chemical use. Rebecca is a strong advocate for women in science, in mentoring the progression of women to senior levels within academia and industry.

Doug Cook

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Douglas R. Cook is a Professor at the University of California-Davis. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and conducted postdoctoral research at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Embryology at The Johns Hopkins University. He was among a small group of colleagues who together pioneered the use of Medicago truncatula as a model genetic and genomic system for investigation of legume biology. For the past two decades has been a leading advocate for the application of basic legume science towards pressing agricultural needs in the developing world. He recently led an international consortium focused on the of crop wild relatives of cultivated chickpea. His current research spans model and crop legume systems, especially chickpea, with a dual focus on (1) ecological genomics to understand gene function in complex natural and agricultural legume systems, and (2) mining agricultural traits from microbes and plants.


Recently, Doug cofounded NuCicer, which is a biotechnology company focused on developing super-high protein content lines of chickpea, with enhanced functional and nutritional properties.


Anne-Maree Weston

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Anne Maree Weston heads Austrade’s Centre of Excellence for Agribusiness and Food and  is Austrade’s Global Lead for trade and investment promotion in the industry.

Prior to joining Austrade in 2017, Anne Maree worked for almost 20 years in strategic planning and capital raising for agricultural businesses, ranging from SMEs to corporations and institutional investors.  She understands agribusiness at the grass roots level and brings a pragmatic and commercial approach to her government role.

With responsibility for driving Austrade’s strategy for agrifood promotion, she has developed collaborative relationships with industry stakeholders, government partners, exporters and investors across the supply chain.  As such she has a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges for Australian agricultural and food exports. With her team, she is committed to identifying the gaps and opportunities for productive foreign direct investment that will contribute to the industry’s continued growth and diversification.

Andrew May

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Andrew May is Co-Chief Executive Officer at UniGrain. Unigrain is an Australian-based food and agribusiness, specialising in the manufacture of oat- and pulse-based food ingredients. Unigrain produces a diverse range of products encompassing both traditional cereal and pulse ingredients for the domestic and Asian markets, as well as more recently expanding into pulse proteins and other fractionated plant-based products.
Prior to Unigrain, Andrew worked as a Manager, Healthcare, Mergers & Acquisitions at KPMG and is an alumnus of the University of Melbourne after completing his Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Laws.

Crispin Howit

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Crispin completed his PhD at the Australian National University, studying respiratory pathways and photorespiration in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of higher plants. His first postdoctoral fellowship was at Arizona State University where he studied the interaction of respiration and photosynthesis in cyanobacteria. In 2000 he moved to CSIRO in Canberra, Australia, for a second postdoctoral fellowship using gene technology to modify starch structure and function in the model plant Arabidopsis. At the end of 2002 he moved into the area of cereal quality. Since then he has had a diverse range of interests: carotenoid biosynthesis in cereal grains, how manipulation of protein content and composition impacts end product functionality, the genetics of end product quality in wheat and modification of grain composition for health benefits.

Juraj Durco

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Juraj Durco is a natural collaborator, food technologist, consultant and R&D leader currently heading Plant Protein Innovation Hub for Kraft Heinz. His role is to promote agile innovation ecosystem by leveraging internal and external partners with one objective – developing delicious plant protein-based food for many, not few.

Born in Czechoslovakia, with background in Analytical Chemistry, Juraj gained his global R&D experience from working in companies such as Kraft Foods, Mondelez, GWF, Patties Foods and recently, as a co-founder of FAPIC, Global Consultancy. He has worked in a wide variety of environments, overseeing large-scale projects, and developing talent as he comes across it. Having successfully launched products in 5 continents, he brings to every project a cultured, international perspective. With a pragmatic approach and a creative mind, Juraj is known within the food industry for improving existing products and directing new products to market smoothly.​

Victor Sadras

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Victor Sadras has measured, modelled and developed theory on the water, nitrogen and carbon economies of annual (wheat, maize, oat, cotton, sunflower, soybean, pulses) and perennial crops (grapevine, olive) in rainfed and irrigated systems of Australia, Argentina, and China. His most important scientific contribution is an ongoing theoretical model of crop yield accounting for agronomic, physiological, ecological, and evolutionary factors including genomic conflict, transitions in the units of selection, phenotypic plasticity, plant-insect relations, and resource co-limitation.  He published 270 papers in peer-reviewed journals, returning 19,000 citations, and h-index = 81 (Google Scholar, October 2022). He is the senior editor of Crop Physiology: case histories of major crops (Academic Press), and lead author of “Yield gap analysis of rainfed and irrigated crops” FAO Water Report 41.

John Piper

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The Piper Family have been farming in the Felton Valley just south of Toowoomba since 1975. John returned home in 1995 after university studies at Gatton. John and his wife Nicole, John’s parents and his brother Andrew are involved in the business. They currently farm 800 hectares using controlled traffic on 3 metre wheel-tracks. Legumes have always been a part of their rotation. Mungbeans in summer and chickpeas in winter. Andrew works for Agleader so modern technology is used.