MEET OUR SPEAKERS

Maha Zakaria serves as the Commercial Counselor at the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt since July 2016. She is responsible for the development of economic and commercial relations between Egypt and the United States of America.  Before being posted to U.S, she was the Head of the Technical Office of the Egyptian Commercial Service supervising work of all Egyptian Commercial offices abroad. She was Commercial First Secretary in the Egyptian Commercial Office, Athens, Greece during 2009-2013. Previously, she was Commercial Second Secretary in the Commercial Office, Brussels, Belgium from 2003-2007, handling the Commercial relations between Egypt and EU. She earned a B.A degree in English Language from Ain Shams University in 1996 and a Masters degree in International Business Administration from Ecole Superieure Libre Des Sciences Commerciales Appliquees (ESLSCA) in 2003.

Kai Hughes, Executive Director, International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) is the seventh Executive Director in the Committee’s history since formation in 1939. After a career as an officer in the British Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm spanning 20 years he joined the Liverpool Cotton Association as General Manager and Head of Arbitration before becoming The University Secretary of the UK’s second largest university where he was in charge of administration, legal services and governance. In 2008 he returned to cotton becoming Managing Director of the International Cotton Association and was instrumental in the formation of ICA Bremen, a joint venture cotton testing, research and quality training centre formed with the Bremen Baumwollboerse, Bremen, Germany. He was its first Managing Director. Kai has a BA (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Liverpool and an MBA from the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. 

Dr Steve Hatfield-Dodds is the Executive Director of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science (ABARES), the research bureau in the Department of Agriculture. He is one of Australia’s leading researchers on natural resource management, sustainability policy, and adaptive governance, with notable work on managing the multiple values at play in sustainable development.  Dr Hatfield-Dodds is a recognised expert in megatrends, identifying long-term strategic insights and their implications for maintaining profitable and competitive agricultural and rural industries. His previous career includes senior roles in Treasury, the Environment Department, and CSIRO, where he led the integrated modelling for the CSIRO Australian National Outlook 2015. He is an Honorary Professor of Public Policy at ANU, past Board Member of the International Society for Ecological Economics, and has published in journals including Nature, Science, Agricultural Systems, Ecological Economics, and Ecology and Society. 

Dr Mark Browne works on understanding the impacts of human activities (priority pollutants, clothing, plastic debris, urbanization) on biodiversity and rehabilitating affected habitats (ecological engineering). He collaborates closely with colleagues at a wide range of national and international institutions, enabling a strong interdisciplinary approach. Dr Browne is particularly interested in the scientific basis for biological conservation through managing environmental problems and he advises the United Nations, European Union and governments (Australia, U.K., U.S.A.) on this. To combat the problems of debris, he developed the Benign by Design programme which works with industry and government to determine how to reduce emissions of toxic debris from consumer products (e.g. clothing, packaging, exfoliants). 

www.cmsi.unsw.edu.au   www.nytimes.com

Dr Richard Venditti is the Elis-Signe Olsson Professor in Pulp and Paper Science and Engineering in the Forest Biomaterials Department at NCSU.  He has 26 years of experience in research in the areas of bioproducts, pulp/paper, bioeconomy, recycling, and environmental LCA. His research and teaching involves developing effective systems to transform renewable plant based resources into sustainable products. Dr Venditti teaches Unit Operations of Pulp and Paper, Process Control, Environmental LCA, and Introduction to the Bioeconomy classes at NCSU.  He is the director of the Pulp and Paper Workshop at NCSU co-sponsored by the Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industries (TAPPI). Dr Venditti received a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, was named a TAPPI Fellow in 2012, and was named a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Environmental Science in 2009.  He has over 150 peer reviewed publications and three patents.

Dr Michaela Cosijn is the Team Leader, Livelihoods and Adaptive Development Team in the Decision Support and Planning Group, CSIRO.  She has a M.Sc in integrated Environmental Sciences from Southampton University and has 20+ year’s experience in international development programmes enhancing livelihoods. Her work has focused on providing technical support and managing pro-poor value chains in agricultural and fisheries, gender integration, and climate adaptation, as well as developing research commercialisation models with research institutions and private sector. Her core skills include capacity building, participatory planning and implementation processes, and partnership. Her current projects examine social inclusion of marginal households and women and developing models of partnership and engagement for research commercialisation and agricultural innovation. Prior to 2013, Michaela ran her environmental consultancy for 12 years in Mozambique and worked in New Zealand for 4½ years as a local government environmental planner. 

Dr Kater Hake is the Vice President of Agricultural and Environmental Research at Cotton Incorporated where he is responsible for the cotton production research program. Kater leads a team of 6 Research Directors who develop and support innovative problem-solving research with a network of 300 public sector scientists to increase the profitability and sustainability of cotton farming in the U.S.  Kater came to Cotton Incorporated from a long career in cotton research and management. Most recently he was the Vice President of Technology Development at Delta & Pine Land Company. He has also held positions at Texas A&M University, The National Cotton Council, and the University of California. He holds three degrees from the University of California at Davis and at Riverside.

Dr Francesca Mancini is a tropical agronomist with more than 20 years’ experience in sustainable agriculture in Asia and Africa. Since 2000,  she has been working for the Plant Production and Protection Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. A key area of her work has been promoting ecological farming systems to reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture, and in particular of cotton production. She served as Vice-Chair of the International Panel on the Social, Environmental and Economic Performance of Cotton (SEEP) until 2018.  More recently, she is providing technical assistance to a joint effort that engages ICAC and other cotton stakeholders in the development of a cross-commodity sustainability impact framework: the Delta Project.

Dr Adrian Volders is an Adjunct Professor at Griffith University, Chair of the Queensland Trust for Nature and Principal Economist with the International Water Centre. Adrian is a team member on the Catchment Resilience (Potter Foundation) Project at Griffith and an active researcher on several large NESP funded projects. Adrian is a water sector and natural resource management consultant, policy advisor and economist. He has led the development of large infrastructure business cases and development of water quantity and quality markets. Adrian developed designs for water quality banking on the Great Barrier Reef and the implementation of a nitrogen-trading regime to reduce pollution impacts. On behalf of the Queensland Government he has led major investigations into the effectiveness of water management programs. His expertise in environmental economics has been engaged by numerous consortiums and organisations to develop benefit valuations.

Dr Mike Bange is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Agriculture and Food based in Narrabri NSW Australia.  He leads initiatives in cropping systems research, crop physiology and agronomy into managing abiotic stress tolerances, crop nutrition, climate change impacts, and water use efficiency. His own research currently includes detailed investigations into the impacts of climate and management on cotton fibre quality, and the use of novel plant growth regulators.  He has also had a long career supporting the development and application of decision support systems for assisting crop management and knowledge dissemination.

Jon Welsh is the current climate risk technical lead in the Australian Cotton Industry. Jon’s interest in the cyclical nature of climate began as a producer in a cattle and grain family farming business in central-west New South Wales. He presented at an APEC climate forum in Tokyo, Japan in 2009 on the Indian Ocean Dipole while still carrying out farming duties. Jon moved into full-time agricultural R&D in 2013 and undertakes climate extension for the Australian cotton industry with the aim of improving grower climate literacy, risk analysis and better decision making. The author of the fortnightly weather e-news, the Cotton Industry ‘Moisture Manager’ with almost 4000 subscribers across many industries, John is a partner in a regionally-based consultancy, AgEcon in the Namoi Valley, and remains ever-grounded with climate – owning a farming business with his wife Claire and two boys.

Dr Warwick Stiller has been a member of the CSIRO cotton breeding team since 1995, when he joined to do a PhD examining how to breed cotton to be more water-use efficient. Warwick has lead CSIRO’s Cotton Breeding program since 2013 and over the years has delivered new varieties for all production regions in Australia with higher yield, better disease resistance and with fibre properties sought by spinners.  Additionally, Warwick has developed resilient varieties for dryland production systems with appropriate fibre packages.  His collaborative research efforts have seen Warwick investigate modern molecular tools for speeding up breeding and selection, collecting exotic cotton germplasm to ensure genetic diversity in breeding and discovering new sources of resistance to a range of important diseases.

Anupam Gupta, President, Olam International Limited, Singapore is part of the Cotton Leadership team and member of Operations Committee. An engineering graduate with an MBA in International Business, he has 27 years’ experience spanning various industries and products, anchored around International Business. The first eight years were with leading manufacturing exporters in products such as textiles and automobiles, and past 19 years have been in the cotton business with Olam International, a global agri-business leader. Mr Gupta has extensive experience working with small farmers in several countries in Africa, helping improve farmer livelihood by unlocking mutual value through yield improvement and social impact programs. He is a Member of ICAC’s standing committee PSAP and Board member of BCI.

Dr Sharon Downes is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Agriculture and Food. She studied Helicoverpa spp. for the past 15 years to help develop strategies for managing its resistance to Bt-cotton as part of an integrated pest management approach. With the recent invasion of this pest into the Americas, her focus shifted toward a global perspective that informs Australia’s local agricultural industries about potential threats based on happenings elsewhere in the world. She recently participated in an international consortium on ‘Living with Resistance’ and with them compared social aspects of managing resistance in Bt crops to identify factors that could improve governance systems globally.

Sally Ceeney has 20 years’ experience in the Australian cotton industry and is based in Warren, NSW. Sally works for Cotton Australia in the area Research Direction and Stewardship Policy. She draws on her extensive industry experience to foster policies that reflect growers’ needs as well as engage industry organisations and government with Cotton Australia. Sally’s key policy focus includes biosecurity, stewardship of pesticides and biotechnologies, and convening grower input into industry research direction. As part of her role, Sally is responsible for facilitating the development and review of cotton industry stewardship strategies for conventional insecticides, herbicides and transgenic cotton traits, in close consultation with growers, relevant scientific experts, technology providers and regulatory authorities.

Dr René van der Sluijs has 39 years’ experience in production and processing of many fibres, notably cotton. Employed as a manager, researcher and consultant in various countries, his current role is researching cotton production: harvesting, ginning, classing, spinning and fibre quality. Appointed as the industry’s technical specialist on fibre quality in 2013, he secured a large, diverse number of projects and currently leads the Australian industry initiative in achieving standardized ‘best management practices’ in classing, ginning and harvesting to complement similar on-farm initiatives. Member of the Australian Cotton Ginners Association and Cotton Classers Association of Australia and Australia’s representative on three international (Taskforce on Commercial Standardization of Instrument Testing (CSITC), the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) and the International Committee on Cotton Testing Methods (ICCTM)) industry committees. Technical assessor for the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) and International Cotton Association (ICA).

Dr Suzan Husseini Sanad Ismail, Professor Doctor of Spinning Research Department, Cotton Research Institute, Agricultural Research Center, Egypt was the Head of  the Spinning Research Department from 2014 to 2017. She is a Member of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC Task Force on Commercial Standardization of Instrument Testing of Cotton (CSITC) and a Member of General Assembly of Cotton and Industries Holding Company. Dr Sanad is co-author of a patent submitted on Identifying Egyptian Cotton DNA in Various Textile Products”. She has published chapters as co-author in a book Advances in Yarn Spinning technology, edited by C A Lawrence, University of Leeds, UK Chapter 9: Compact Spinning Technology.