Speaker Profiles

Prof Ben Hayes

Professor Hayes is a world-leading genomics expert and is the co-inventor of genomic prediction for traits in dairy and beef cattle. Ben has extensive research experience in the genetic improvement of livestock, crop, pasture and aquaculture species, with a focus on the integration of genomic information into breeding programs. He is also a member of the National Livestock Genetics Consortium Taskforce and has recently been appointed the Research Director for the Zero Net Emissions in Agriculture CRC.

Prof Ala Tabor

Professor Ala Tabor joined UQ in October 2010, after 18 years of conducting research with the Queensland Government. She is a research-focused academic with a strong background in industry engagement associated with animal health and agricultural biotechnologies using genomics tools. Ala has been researching bovine venereal diseases for more than 20 years. Currently, she is screening a new Australian trichomonas vaccine and her team is developing novel ‘single sample’ molecular diagnostic methods for Trich and Vibrio in collaboration with industry.

Dr Sarah Meale

Dr Meale is a Senior Lecturer who joined UQ in 2017. Her research focuses on environmentally sustainable production by manipulating the rumen for reduced methane emissions and enhanced production. She brings a multidisciplinary approach to her research by examining the effects of nutrition and age on emission, gut microbiology, production performance and meat quality of an animal.

Prof Heather Smyth

Professor Smyth is a flavour chemist and sensory scientist who has been working with premium food and beverage products for the past 20 years. With a background in wine flavour chemistry, her expertise is in understanding consumer enjoyment of foods and beverages in terms of both sensory properties and composition. Prof Smyth has a special interest in describing and articulating food quality, understanding the regional flavours of locally grown produce, and modelling food flavour and textural properties using instrumental measurements.

Prof John Gaughan

John is a Professor in the School of Agriculture and Food Sustainability at The University of Queensland, Gatton, Australia. John has 129 publications, in the areas of; impacts of harsh climatic conditions on livestock, physiological responses to heat stress, investigating the impacts of climate variability on animal production and reproduction (beef, dairy, sheep). He is part of an international group which developed new thermal stress indices for livestock, a heat stress risk assessment model for feedlot cattle, and is working with a team in Australia to develop a thermal risk assessment platform for the northern grazing industries. His team is currently developing a heat stress risk assessment model for working dogs. John’s work has largely focused on gaining an understanding of animal’s physiological responses to acute and chronic heat stress, the development strategies to ameliorate the impact of high heat load, and the likely impact of future climatic conditions on animals (domestic and wildlife). John is also part of a team investigating the impact of climate and nutrition on calf survivability.

Jon Condon

As one of Australia’s most experienced and respected agricultural journalists, Jon Condon has been part of the fabric of the nation’s beef industry for his entire life. For 40 years he has specialised in reporting on the red meat and livestock industries.  He spent his early life in the Northern Territory, where his family built and operated a successful export beef processing plant at Katherine, and an extensive cattle property on the Drysdale River in the East Kimberley. He holds a business degree in marketing and communications and spent most of his early career with Fairfax/Rural Press Ltd. In January 2011 he established a new business with fellow journalist, James Nason, launching the Beef Central website and a specialised red meat industry communications consultancy. The business has since extended into other related industries and sectors, via Sheep Central (lamb and wool), Grain Central, Property Central and Ag Technology.

David Harris

Dave Harris was appointed Managing Director and CEO of Australian Agricultural Company in September 2022. Dave has worked extensively across the beef and cattle supply chain, including holding senior positions with Stanbroke and Smithfield Cattle Company, as well as running his private agricultural consultancy business and family farming operations in central west, New South Wales. He first joined AACo in 2016 in a key role to improve the operational aspect of the business, before being appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2020. Dave’s strong track record building and running integrated supply chains and his extensive knowledge of the Australian beef and cattle industries made him ideally suited to managing AACo’s expansive operations across the Northern Territory and Queensland. As an Executive Dave is passionate about supply chain and product innovation, and building resilience in agricultural strategic frameworks. Over his time in the business, he has led the team in redesigning AACo’s individual property business models to improve alignment with the company’s strategy across its multiple supply chains. Dave holds a Bachelor of Rural Science from the University of New England, specialising in ruminant nutrition and meat science.

Richard Heath

Richard Heath is CEO of the Zero Net Emissions in Agriculture CRC.

Previous to this role Richard was Executive Director of the Australian Farm Institute, an independent agricultural policy research organisation. Richard is a Nuffield Scholar and was a farmer at Gunnedah for 20 years until 2012. Richard has also had his own AgTech consultancy business and was Associate Professor of Agronomy and Farm Management at the University of Sydney. He is currently also a non-executive director of the Grains Research and Development Corporation. 

Rebecca Burnham

Rebecca Burnham was elected Chair of Frontier Genetics Inc in 2022. The catalyst for the formation of this unique 5000 breeder, genetic collaboration was the joint desire from members to provide a united approach to breeding, road testing and marketing beef genetics, with a focus on implementation of proven research and sires being ‘ready to work’.  

In 2019, Bec conducted research under an International Nuffield Farming Scholarship examining how to further optimise genetic selection in Northern Australia, with a particular focus on selecting for profit and addressing the emerging consumer and environmental expectations. Prior to this she co managed a breeding and fattening, GAP USDA Organic Brahman operation outside Alpha in Central QLD and completed a Bachelor of Education.

Currently, Bec along with husband Dan Radel, operate DBR & REB Grazing, east of Augathella, in south west QLD. They run a commercial background and fattening operation and 2 nucleus seedstock breeding herds, selling measured & paddock prepared Brahman and Brangus genetics. Currently their brahman herd is engaged with the MLA Northern Repronomics and Northern Beef Genomics Projects.

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