Planting for the future - Kylie Ireland

Cooperative Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity, Murdoch University

BSc (Ecology)/BA (Political Science, Spanish) 2005
Hons (Botany) 2006

Scholarships available. Please check with the relevant university for details.

KYLIE Ireland’s research could prevent the spread of a disease that has crippled the plant populations of USA’s West Coast and parts of Europe.
Kylie, 25, is in the process of completing her PhD through the Cooperative Research Centre for Plant Biosecurity at Murdoch University.

There, she is studying Australian plant susceptibility to Phytophthora ramorum, or Sudden Oak Death: a recently discovered invasive plant pathogen causing damage, and in some cases death, to plants in nurseries, gardens, and natural woodland ecosystems of the USA and Europe.

With a Bachelor of Science and Honours in ecology and botany, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in political science and Spanish from UQ, Kylie is well-versed on not only the topic of plant pathology – but also on how a disease like Phytophthora ramorum needs to be handled from a policy viewpoint.

"I have the opportunity to incorporate some of my political science skills from my BA by studying the politics and policy surrounding the management and containment of Phytophthora ramorum in the USA and Europe, to make some management recommendations for Australia to prevent entry or deal with any incursion of the disease,” she says.

As part of her PhD, Kylie travels frequently to the world-class University of California in Davis, where she examines Sudden Oak Death in nature.

She says working overseas and with "talented scientists” is what she loves most about her studies.

"The project is a great mix of international work and traditional plant pathology,” she says.

In the future, Kylie sees herself in a government or private industry role which also incorporates science and policy planning.

"I hope to ensure that sound science informs and is integrated into good policy decisions.”