Jessica Lye

Job Title: Team Lead – Extension and Communication

Organisation: cesar

cesar is a Melbourne based research group specialising in conservation, biosecurity and sustainable agriculture. In my role at cesar I work to extend the latest science to farmers and the wider community. 

Before joining cesar, I worked with vegetable growers to raise awareness and adoption of farm biosecurity practices. Working in collaboration with governments, growers, other industry groups, and Plant Health Australia, as a vegetable industry biosecurity coordinator I was also involved in several exotic plant pest incursion responses and development of management plans for high priority exotic pests. In a past life I was a researcher and lab rat. I studied zoology at Monash University before undertaking research in plant biotechnology and completing a PhD in molecular biology. 

Biosecurity benefits us all. Our food security and many businesses depend upon healthy, productive and protected Australian production regions. Many of these production regions are located just outside of city limits, which means that we have regular access to fresh, quality and local produce. This proximity benefits all of us living in cities, however keeping our production regions, our precious gardens and native habitats free from exotic pests will take many eyes. 

I believe in being prepared. There are biosecurity activities that everyone can do to increase our chances of detecting exotic pests early, before they impact our agriculture and natural environments. Undertaking garden hygiene activities and reporting unusual pest and disease symptoms found in urban yards and community gardens could substantially limit economic and environmental impacts caused by pests that make it through our federal border controls.    

My home garden means a lot to me. I am currently reading ‘The Australian Native Garden: A Practical Guide’. I am a regular at my local indigenous plant nursery, and enjoy the occasional episode of Gardening Australia. I have an indoor forest, with my most prized plant being a miniature fig tree I have been growing in a terrarium for several years. I keep an herb garden, a selection of fruit trees, chillies, and I am currently landscaping an indigenous garden. How do I gain information and get messages out about better biosecurity? I am active on Twitter (it is a great source of information on exotic plant pests), and my favoured biosecurity information sources are ABC Country Hour, and the excellent extension programs run by US land  grant universities, such as Penn State Extension and the UC Statewide IPM Program. What I most enjoy is speaking to you all face to face, and having a conversation about biosecurity, and how we can do it better.

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