Dr Lucy Egan took out the Early Career Scientist Encouragement Award for her work in the CSIRO cotton breeding team at the AACS awards last year.

The young research scientist has been working in the cotton industry since November 2020 and was honoured to have her already extensive work commended in such a short time.

“I was very humbled to receive the award,” said Lucy.

“I have only been involved for a short time, however, it was nice to see the work I am doing receive recognition.”

The awards ceremony was part of the 2023 Australian Cotton Research Conference where several awards were given in acknowledgement of “substantial enthusiasm and successful pursuit of cotton science in recent times by an association member that encompasses the values of innovation, collaboration, and impact.”

As well as winning the Early Career Scientist Encouragement Award, Lucy received a $500 cash award.

Lucy’s work is in developing cotton varieties with host plant resistance to pests and diseases which are critical breeding targets for the CSIRO cotton breeding program.

“I specifically work on breeding cotton for resistance to the pests of two-spotted spider mites and silverleaf whitefly, and the disease of Verticillium wilt.

“I have also demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of commercially available Verticillium wilt quantification tests and how it can be applied to the cotton industry,” said Lucy.

Lucy has been working on developing new Verticillium wilt assays under controlled conditions to help screen cotton lines for levels of disease resistance.

She has also been involved in cutting edge phenomics technology to quantify disease symptoms which will help underpin the selection of material for resistance in breeding lines.

Lucy commenced as a Post Doctoral Fellow in the CSIRO Cotton Breeding Group in 2020 to work on a project to further develop cotton germplasm with increased host plant resistance to pests and disease.

Prior to her position at CSIRO, she was based in New Zealand where she completed her PhD thesis on germplasm exploration and phenotyping in Trifolium species for the improvement of agronomic traits and abiotic stress tolerance at Lincoln University.

“CSIRO is a great employer and have been very supportive of my research,” said Lucy.

“I really enjoy working in the cotton industry as there is a high level of innovation and collaboration with growers.”

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