Agriculture and Food Science

Overview of the Research Area


Plant Health and Biosecurity

Research in this area focuses on the economically important insects, pathogens and weeds and the ecology of the organisms and biological and chemical controls.

Our interests focus on non-chemical means of controlling pest organisms and the development of integrated pest and disease management systems. Our work is closely associated with agrihorticultural industries, both nationally (state departments of agriculture) and internationally. Our work includes pure research related to the biology, taxonomy (plant, fungal and insect) and ecology of pest organisms and beneficial species such as natural enemies and bees and applied research developing management strategies. We also undertake research into natural environments and the development of naturally-derived products as environmentally-friendly pesticides. The group has extensive international experience and has led projects in Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Bhutan. Current research is mostly associated with citrus, olives and cotton. We have extensive facilities for the study of entomology and plant pathology, both in the laboratory and in the field.


Postharvest is an inter-disciplinary area fundamental aspects of produce biology and physiology, modifications to the postharvest environment to extend the storage life of produce, and aspects of the postharvest industry such as quality management and exporting.
Recent research in postharvest has focussed on the growth, maturation and physiology of fresh produce; the importance of managing temperature and the responses of fresh produce to changes in temperature; the role of ethylene in fruit ripening and senescence; and the practical issues of assessing harvest maturity.

Water, Environment and Sustainability

Our research in the Water, Environment and Sustainability focus on: (i) water availability, variability and unsustainable withdrawals, (ii) water environment and quality, (iii) water governance and institutions, and (iv) climate change and urbanisation. The water issues and challenges are complex due to a range of agro-ecological zones and socio-economic conditions spread across the country, often there are natural extremes of floods and droughts in some part of the country. This is manifested in the increasing competition for water between urban, peri-urban and rural sectors, increased threats to water security due to climate change, pressures on the quality of surface and groundwater resources and over-exploitation of groundwater resources.  The increasing urbanisation has further added to the complexity of stormwater and wastewater management, provision of sanitation services, surface and groundwater pollution, and meeting the demand for water in urban and rural areas and other water uses.  The availability of water of required quantity and quality is critical, particularly to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development

Crop Physiology and Biotechnology

Food Security

Currently Samsul Huda has two research projects on the food security funded by Qatar National Research Fund. Qatar has limited agricultural resources, so food security is a problem if the country cannot rely on assured food imports. Strategies to overcome this problem include land purchase and contract farming in more resource-rich countries including Australia, and in improved productivity of selected crops in Qatar including high tech greenhouse facilities. Both strategies require improved decision-making with respect to crop choice, agronomic and water management, and soil and natural resource management to maximise crop productivity and avoid soil degradation and desertification.

Qatar food Security Research Projects:

  • Improving Food Security in Qatar: Assessing Alternative Cropping Systems Feasibility and Productivity in Variable Climates, Soil and Marketing Environments
  • Safeguarding Food and Environment in Qatar (SAFE-Q)

Food Science

The main research focus includes, development of novel healthy foods, food processing and preservation, meat quality, eating behaviours and food habits, functional foods, food fortification and microencapsulation

Research links with Industry:

  • Sanitarium
  • Carob Australia
  • Lupin Nutrition Foods
  • Australian Natural Biotechnology
  • Department of Agriculture and Foods WA
  • Edith Cowan University
  • Food IQ
  • Qinghai Tsinghua Biotry Bio-Tech Co. Ltd (China)


Dr Jay Bose

Dr Jay Bose
Research Expertise and Interest: Improving abiotic stress (soil salinity, soil acidity, aluminium toxicity, drought, waterlogging, temperature) tolerance in crop plants by manipulating water and nutrient transport proteins.

Prof Zhonghua Chen

Prof Zhonghua Chen
Research Expertise and Interests: Plant Biology, Electrophysiology, Plant Biotechnology, Genomics, Evolutionary Biology. Research interests are agricultural and horticultural science, plant drought and salinity tolerance, sustainable crop production and environmental stress, protected cropping technology, plant evolution and stress tolerance.

Dr Rosalie Durham

Dr Rosalie Durham
Research Expertise and Interest: Food scientist with a wide range of interests in food processing, food quality and safety. Research projects include development of dairy processes incorporating membrane and chromatographic separations, development of sensor labels for fresh fruit, sustainable manufacturing and the recovery of process by-products as new ingredients, food microbiology, cereal processing and sensory evaluation.

Adjunct Prof Paul Holford

A/Prof Paul Holford
Research Expertise and Interest: Paul’s research and teaching is of an applied nature that is closely engaged with agricultural and horticultural industries.  It is aimed at strengthening food security and national and international biosecurity through mitigating the impacts of pests and pathogens, increasing production, aiding economic development and providing safe food.  His work is interdisciplinary and has involved collaborations with both private and public partners and he has established close relationships with world-class partners.

Adjunct Assoc Prof Samsul Huda

Associate Professor Samsul Huda
Research Expertise and Interest:agroclimatology, agronomy, crop modelling, climate-smart agriculture, food and water security,  climate risk/opportunity management, crop, soil,  water and nutrient management for livelihood improvement, agriculture and water education, engagement and capacity building, and environmental sustainability.

Associate Professor Malik Hussain

Dr Malik Hussain
Research Expertise and Interest: Food innovation, alternative protein sources, probiotics and gut health, food safety and public health, risk assessment of new food products, emerging food safety management approaches, global food supply chain challenges, and food regulations.

Dr Christine Hutchison

Dr Christine Hutchison
Research Expertise and Interest: Meat quality with a particular focus on eating quality parameters of game meats, both farmed and wild harvested. Research has focused on the effect of farming or wild harvest practices on meat quality of common game meat species.

Associate Prof Nijat Imin

Prof Vijay Jayasena

Prof Vijay Jayasena
Research Expertise and Interest: Development of novel healthy foods, functional foods, value adding to agricultural products, food industry by-products utilization, product development, development of Asian foods, fermentation, food quality evaluation, food processing and preservation, shelf life extension, plant protein isolation, grain processing, baking, technology and sensory evaluation

Prof Priti Krishna

Prof Priti Krishna
Research Expertise and Interest:

Dr Li Li

Dr Li Li
Research Expertise and Interest: diet-gut microbiome implications in health and chronic diseases; previous research focused on diet and gut microbiome relationships in adults with cystic fibrosis; implication of flavonoids and body composition in health and diseases; public health nutrition such as food security and food system

Prof Basant Maheshwari

Prof B.Maheshwari
Research Expertise and Interest: water, environment and sustainability with particular focus on water resources modelling; groundwater monitoring and management; urban water; river health; irrigation; water education, engagement and capacity building; environmental sustainability; and water for livelihood and wellbeing. Professor Maheshwar is passionate about understanding the social, economic, cultural, policy and institutional aspects of water management, and engaging communities, governments and other stakeholders to address local and regional water issues. Also, his work emphasises that complex water and environmental problems requires well designed simple solutions that will result in situation improvement and livelihood improvements.

Dr Michelle Mak

Dr Michelle MakResearch Expertise and Interest: Sustainable and socially inclusive agricultural production, protected cropping technologies, crop management and postharvest, integrated pest management, biological control and pollination, indigenous crops, agricultural practices and nutritional benefits. Future food production faces complex challenges in order to feed growing populations with less water, land and resources to share, at the same time, water, soil and environmental contamination are increasing. Additionally, globalisation impacts Australian agricultural supply and demand, pricing, and biosecurity. My research facilitates innovative solutions to food security and sovereignty through improved science communication and implementation.

Dr Ryan McQuinn

Dr Ryan McQuinn
Research Expertise and Interest:

Dr Sunil Panchal

Dr Sunil Panchal
Research Expertise and Interest: Functional foods, Food waste and by-product valorisation, phytochemical extraction, diet-gut microbiota interactions in chronic diseases, tropical fruits, native fruits, omega-3 fatty acids

Dr Richard Thomas

Dr Richard Thomas
Research Expertise and Interest: regenerative agriculture, remote sensing, geosciences, greenhouse technologies, technology in agricultural education

Distinguished Prof David Tissue

Distinguished Prof David Tissue
Hawkesbury Institute For The Environment
Research Expertise and Interest: Impact of environmental factors (e.g. CO2, water, temperature) on leaf, soil and ecosystem fluxes of CO2 and water, with a particular emphasis on photosynthesis, respiration and plant water relations. Professor Tissue's research aims to improve crop resilience to climate in the field and in horticulture production in the National Vegetable Protected Cropping Centre (NVPCC)

Contact Person

For more information about the research area, please contact Zhonghua Chen via email or phone (02) 4570 1934.