MEET OUR SPEAKERS

Mr Richard Haire, Chair, Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) was appointed by the Minister for Agriculture in 2016.  He has held many leadership positions within the cotton industry, most recently as Managing Director and regional head of Olam International, a global leader in the supply chain management of agricultural products and food ingredients. He was formerly the Chief Executive of Queensland Cotton Corporation Pty Ltd and a member of the Rabo Australia Food and Agribusiness Advisory Board. Mr Haire is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Management. He formerly served as a Director on the CRDC Board from 2011 to 2014.

Dr Alison McMorrow is the Chair of the Organising Committee of Australia for the 78th ICAC Plenary Meeting. She is an Assistant Secretary in the Agricultural Policy Division of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture with responsibility for the department’s project to streamline and modernise Australia’s agricultural levies legislative framework, crops policy (grains, cotton, rice, sugar and other crops) and agriculture-related infrastructure policy. Dr McMorrow has 14 years’ experience in the Australian Government in policy and program roles covering climate change, water reform and agriculture. Dr McMorrow has a post-doctorate in glaciology where she undertook research into paleoclimate records from Antarctic ice cores.

Dr Adama Coulibaly, Director General of Cote D’ivoire Cashew & Cotton Council, is an Ivorian veterinarian.  After an academic career with a Ph.D. in veterinary medicine from the University of Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, he joined the Veterinary Inspectorate in 1986 leading to a 32-year career devoted to the management of veterinary medicine. Subsequently, he coordinated the Ministerial Cabinet as Head of Cabinet of the Ministry of State Ministry of Employment of Social Affairs and Vocational Training. An activist devoted to agricultural and rural training, Dr Coulibaly held various positions in national frameworks (SODEPRA, ANADER, Center for Rural Professions) and internationally as President of the International Network of Agricultural and Rural Training (FAR) at volunteer title. In June 2014, he was appointed Deputy Managing Director in charge of the cotton sector at the Cotton and Cashew Council.

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. 

Leanne Kemp is Founder and CEO of Everledger and Queensland’s third Chief Entrepreneur. She is a highly regarded leader in many fields including technology and insurance, and well-known for her innovations using Blockchain technology to track high-value assets such as diamonds, art and wine. Leanne works on a global scale to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation and is an advocate of sustainability in business.  Leanne is an expert advisor to the World Economic Forum, the World Trade Board’s Sustainable Trade Action Group and the IBM Blockchain Platform Board of Advisors. She was also recently appointed as an Adjunct Professor in the Institute for Future Environment at the Queensland University of Technology. Leanne has won many awards including Innovator of the Year twice.

Dr Ann McDonald has been an officer of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for over 20 years, working across import and export areas. She also worked as a technical adviser to the agriculture minister for around 18 months. More recently, she has led a taskforce to re-write the export legislative framework that underpins export certification accompanying food and other agricultural exports, and managing a project team responsible for delivering the Agriculture Senior Officials National Traceability Project. Before her government role, Ann was in private veterinary practice with her husband in rural NSW.  As well as her degree in veterinary science, Ann has Masters in international relations and business administration. She spends her spare time helping her husband run their sheep property about an hour from Canberra. She is committed to agriculture and improving life for rural Australians.

Emma Watson is CEO and a Co-Founder of AgriDigital, one of Australia’s leading emerging agtech and fintech companies.  Emma was announced as winner of the Eastern Region ‘Disruptor’ category in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 Awards. AgriDigital launched its digital supply chain platform for the agricultural sector in 2017 and continues to work with blockchain and other novel enabling technologies to bring efficiency and transparency to global supply chains. More than 7.3 million tonnes of grain has been transacted through the AgriDigital platform at a value of more than A$1.4B by 10,000+ users in over 30 countries globally. Emma holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management, a LLB (Hons) and BA from the University of Melbourne.

Alan McClay was appointed CEO of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in September 2015. BCI’s mission is to make global cotton production better: for the people who produce it, for the environment it grows in and for the sector’s future. Through BCI and its Partners, farmers receive training on how to use water efficiently, care for the health of the soil and natural habitats, reduce use of the most harmful chemicals and apply decent work principles. Prior to BCI, Alan worked as a consultant advising firms and trade bodies on not-for-profit strategy and management, and on sustainable sourcing policies and standards. From 2004 to 2009 he was CEO of CIES – the Food Business Forum, an international platform for food retail businesses when the Global Food Safety Initiative and the Global Social Compliance Programme were launched.

Sandon Adams, Managing Director – Australia, Oritain Global Limited, is a member of a fourth-generation farming family (broadacre cropping and cattle grazing) with experience in aquaculture, horticulture, agriculture and FMCG. He is passionate about promoting transparency and trust for products and brands in the global supply chains.  His experience spans broad acre cropping, horticulture, aquaculture and FMCG, where he has managed global brands for the world’s largest food & beverage company, Nestlé. Oritain Global is a global leader in scientifically verifying the origin of fibre products. With no reliance on traditional traceability (labels and bar codes) or tag and trace markers, Oritain unlocks the intrinsic and natural “fingerprint” in products to determine where they were grown or manufactured, helping businesses support provenance claims and identify authentic vs. fraudulent or counterfeit goods.

Jannice Cameron-Chapital, Chief Marketing Officer at Himatsingka brings over 25 years of experience in the men’s fashion and home textile industries. She is responsible for overseeing all marketing initiatives at Himatsingka. Growing up in Scotland, Jannice moved to New York City where she began a career in men’s fashion working with Perry Ellis. After 15 years in the fashion world, she moved into home textiles space.  Jannice’s key accomplishments include creating the Live Comfortably and Great Sleep brands. Her newest introduction was the I AM brand she created to speak directly to the Millennial consumer. The I AM brand is found at major department stores, including Macy’s Pottery Barn, Hudsons Bay and Kohl’s.  Himatsingka Group, a vertically integrated home textile major with a global footprint, focuses on the manufacture, retail and distribution of home textile products with capability to control farm to shelf activities.

MeiLin Wan, VP Textiles, Applied DNA Sciences based in New York is responsible for providing clients with innovative molecular business solutions to preserve the integrity of products, assure quality and enable responsible and sustainable sourcing practices globally. She leads the team to create commercial solutions under the CertainT platform for providing “forensic and authentic proof” for products that utilize materials such as cotton, wool, viscose, leather, down and feather, synthetics, recycled PET, and specialty coatings.  For more than 16 years, MeiLin has worked in the bioscientific field transforming the use forensic DNA and nanotechnologies into useful and novel consumer and industrial driven applications. Applied DNA makes life real and safe by providing innovative, molecular-based technology solutions and services that can help protect products, brands, entire supply chains, and intellectual property of companies, governments and consumers from theft, counterfeiting, fraud and diversion.

Shannon Mercer is the Director of Business Development at the FibreTrace & Sundown Pastoral Company. Trust through transparency is the key message FibreTrace promotes. Forging a future for sustainable fashion and its supply chain is a key element to the Sundown Pastoral Company team. Shannon is an MBA graduate of the University of Newcastle, an expert in implementing strategic business growth.  He has direct insight into the brands wants and needs in terms of traceability, he understands the supply chain transparency difficulties and has first-hand knowledge and access to the raw fibre production process.

Arthur Spellson is a current Director of Cotton Australia and a Director and two-time past Chairman of the Australian Cotton Shippers Association. He has worked in the Australian cotton industry for more than 25 years having had roles from production through ginning, classing, warehousing and marketing.  Arthur is the current Marketing Manager – Cotton for Auscott Limited marketing Auscott’s cotton directly to textile mills and brands.

Liesl Truscott is the European and Materials Strategy Director with responsibility for developing and embedding Textile Exchange’s preferred materials program. Liesl has specialized in organic cotton and has a deep knowledge of the sector. With a first class degree in Environmental Management from the University of Newcastle in Australia, she has spent more than 20 years in the fields of corporate social responsibility, occupational health and safety, and environmental management – working in both the private and public sector.

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 Alice Payne is an Associate Professor in Fashion in the School of Design, Queensland University of Technology. Her research centres on environmental and social sustainability concerns throughout textile and apparel industry supply chains. Alice has examined perspectives on sustainability along the cotton value chain, the cultural and material flows of post-consumer textile waste, and design processes of mass-market product developers, independent fashion designers, and social entrepreneurs. She is co-editor of the book Global Perspectives on Sustainable Fashion (Bloomsbury 2019). As a domain leader in the Institute for Future Environments, Alice collaborates with colleagues from many disciplines including law, biotechnology, polymer chemistry, business and robotics on initiatives addressing waste. Alice is also an award-winning designer and has exhibited in Australia and overseas.

Dr Oliver Knox, Senior Lecturer, School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England, Armidale was born in Scotland, but grew up in Kent before returning to Scotland at age nine. Oliver attended the University of Aberdeen where he obtained a BSc (Hons) in Genetics and a PhD in Plant and Soil Science. In 2003 he accepted a job at the Australian Cotton Research Station, Narrabri where Oliver spent five years working on the effect of GM cotton on soil microbiota. He returned to Scotland to advise the government on the potential for GM crops just in time for the first Scottish parliamentary ban on them. Oliver returned to Cotton and Australia in 2014 where he continues to explore some of the world’s most amazing soils. His interests are in cropping systems and how the plant, abiotic and biotic soil components interact.

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 Dharminder Pathak is presently serving as Plant Breeder in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana (Punjab), India. He has developed 19 cultivars including 12 of upland cotton, six of desi cotton (G. arboreum) and one variety of celery. His current research interests include introgression and mapping of resistance to cotton leaf curl disease in Upland cotton utilizing A- and D- genome cotton species, identification of genes for big boll size, higher lint percentage and male-sterility in arboreum cotton. He teaches courses in genetics, plant breeding, and molecular biology to undergraduate and postgraduate students. He served as Editor of Crop Improvement journal. He has attended and organized several national and international conferences. Recently, he was awarded “Appreciation Certificate” by Punjab Agricultural University for his contribution in cotton breeding.

Ms Eimear McDonagh is the General Manager of Export Marketing and Logistics for Namoi Cotton Alliance, Australia. Eimear joined Namoi Cotton in 1999 having previously held cotton marketing positions with Cotton Trading Corporation Pty Ltd. She has been involved in the agricultural industry in various management capacities since 1992, both in Australia and in other countries. Eimear has been instrumental in successfully establishing the China, Southeast Asia and Subcontinent markets for Namoi Cotton, she is responsible for export sales, client management, quality and logistics from warehouse to spinning mill. Eimear has more than 20 years of specialised cotton industry experience and is currently a Director of the Australian Cotton Shippers Association (ACSA) and of the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) and an Associate Director of ICA representing Australia.

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 John Zhihong Yu is a Research Geneticist with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and an adjunct professor with Texas A&M University. Prior to his PhD study in plant genomics and molecular genetics at Cornell University, he was a research scholar in classical plant breeding and genetics at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Dr Yu has 36 years of experience in plant breeding, genetics and genomics, with the most recent 25 years exclusively on cotton research. Dr Yu has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals including Nature Biotechnology, Nature Genetics, and Nature Communications. Dr Yu has served as the chairman of the International Cotton Genome Initiative (ICGI) to facilitate and coordinate global collaborative research on cotton genomics and genetics. Dr Yu is the recipient of 2019 ICAC Cotton Researcher of Year Award.

Dr Michel Fok is holder of a Master degree in agronomy majoring in breeding and of a PhD degree in agricultural economics. He started his career in Mali (Africa) to promote food crops and diversification in cotton production areas for 10 years. Since 1993, Dr Fok has been dedicated to the issue of rural development in cotton areas as a scientist of CIRAD (a French Research Centre for agricultural development www.cirad.fr/en/home-page) and he has been involved in studies in various countries mainly in Africa (Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Tanzania) as well as in China and Brazil. He has been member of the International expert panel on economic, social and environmental performances of cotton production (SEEP), under the auspices of the International Cotton Advisory Committee. He is the current Chair of the international Cotton Researchers’ Association (ICRA).

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 (Mrs.) P. Nalayini serves as Principal Scientist ( Agronomy) at ICAR-Central Institute for Cotton Research, Regional Station, Coimbatore. She is a well-known agronomist with more than 25 years of experience as scientist at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. She has developed many novel agronomic technologies to enhance the yield and profitability of the small holder farms of India. She has more than 40 research publications in the National and International Research Journals. Dr Nalayini has been awarded the best thesis award by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, besides Government of India National Award for Innovation using polymers in Agriculture and many awards and prizes by various scientific societies recognizing her work in Agronomic research. Her field of specialization includes water, weed and nutrient management with greater emphasis on sustainable use of resources.

Ms. Lorena Ruiz, an Economist International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) since 2014, is a citizen of Colombia with more than 15 years’ experience in the cotton sector. Ms. Ruiz has a deep understanding of the market dynamics and human elements behind the statistics, having worked extensively in the field with cotton growers. The breadth of her experience in data analysis and her practice in dealing with representatives from different segments of the market provide her with the commensurate depth of knowledge to render the services members expect from the ICAC. She is responsible for forecasting cotton prices, projecting global and regional textile fibre demand, and conducting policy and market analyses. She also serves as a Secretariat of the ICAC’s Expert Panel on Social, Environmental and Economic Sustainability of Cotton Production.

Andrei Guitchounts is a Director of Trade Analyses of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC). He received a Master of Economics and International Trade degree from the Moscow State Institute for International Relations (MGIMO) in 1978. In the cotton industry since 1978. He worked for the Soviet state cotton trading company “Exportlljon/Novoexport” from 1978 to 1990. Mr Guitchounts joined the ICAC in 1990. At the Secretariat he analyses trade data and trade policies, structure of world trade and works on risk management issues. With Dr. Rafiq Chaudhry he co-authored “Cotton Facts” (2003), the first book published by the ICAC Secretariat. He also authored numerous publications on world cotton trade, supply and use, prices, risk management, structure and subsidies.

Lihan Wei is the statistician of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).  Since 2017 she has lead the statistical activities and market analysis in the organisation. Previously, she served at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in the Trade and Agriculture Directorate, authoring reports on innovation in agriculture for sustainability and productivity and the monitoring and evaluation of agricultural policies. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Natural Sciences and a Master of Public Health degree at the Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the American Graduate School in Paris. 

Dr Keshav Raj Kranthi is the Head, Technical Information Section of the ICAC. Before joining the ICAC in 2017, Dr. Kranthi worked as a scientist for 26 years and as the Director for nine years at the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) Nagpur, India. Dr Kranthi is a gold medalist in Ph.D. He has four patents granted in South Africa, Mexico, China and Uzbekistan and six patent applications in India. He invented immunological kits to detect Bt in GM crops, insecticide resistant insects and spurious pesticides. He developed and pioneered IRM technologies in India. The Bt detection kits were commercialized and are extensively used all across India as the Government approved technologies to detect spurious Bt-seed brands. Dr Kranthi won 12 Awards at the National level and two international Awards including the ICAC Researcher of the year Award 2009. 

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 A. H. Prakash has served for the past nine years as Project Coordinator (Cotton Improvement), under ICAR- All India Coordinated Research Project, a Nodal agency assigned with multilocation evaluation, release and monitoring of cotton varieties and hybrids in India.  As Principal Scientist (Plant physiology) at ICAR, the Central Institute for Cotton Research, he has contributed in the area of plant ideotype, hormonal physiology, climate resilient agriculture and in vitro fibre growth and development. For his dedicated and pioneering work for more than 23 years in cotton, he was honoured with the Professional Excellence Award during 2019,  from Cotton Research and Development Association, India.

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.

Belinda Dennett, Corporate Affairs Manager, joined Microsoft Australia in February 2012 after five years working as a policy advisor to the Federal Government across technology and digital economy issues.Prior to working in government, Belinda held a range or corporate and public affairs roles in commercial and not for profit organisations. Belinda has formal qualifications in law and business.

Chris Motton is a Director of Advance Computing based in Kyabram, Australia. Chris has more than 20 years of experience in technology design, development and delivery in agribusiness through world leading solutions built on Microsoft platforms and products. Being based in the irrigation area of northern Victoria, Chris has worked extensively across water management, water delivery, dairy, horticulture, cropping, manufacturing industries across Australia and more recently cotton. Chris is passionate about regional areas, the next generations of IT talent, rural industries and how agriculture can leverage the latest technologies to reduce waste in the supply chain as well as changes and insights to become more sustainable, ethical and profitable.  

Mike McCue, Director of Communications, International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) has more than 30 years of experience as a high-level content director and marketer for both national and global brands, including 22 years at the management level. He has been involved with the cotton industry since 2010, working as Editor-in-Chief of Cotton International magazine and The Cotton Yearbook. He also has extensive experience in marketing, having served as the Marketing Director for two technology-focussed organisations. Mr McCue earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Creative Writing from Miami University in 1991, and specialises in commodities and supply chains; health care; insurance; marketing and promotional copy; and branding.

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.

Brett Ross is the Quality, Research and International Lead for Cotton Seed Distributors Ltd and is based in Wee Waa, New South Wales.  Brett is responsible for Quality Assurance, early generation seed increase of cotton seed varieties, Research, operation of CSD’s Laboratory and the International seed business.  He has been involved in seed production, seed testing, quality assurance and research activities for more than 35 years and has worked at CSD for the past 21 years.  He has extensive experience and knowledge of seed certification, seed increase, seed testing, quality assurance, trait purity testing and quality enhancement systems.

Dr Bruno Bachelier who has a degree in genetics, has been working since 1985 at CIRAD (French Centre for International Cooperation in Agronomic Research for Development). As a cotton breeder in Central Africa, he defended a PhD in biology and agronomy in 1998 on the genetic control of seed-coat fragments. Bruno’s activities then turned towards cotton technology and he was in charge of CIRAD’s Cotton Technology Laboratory from 2000 to 2004. He has been responsible for several training sessions in cotton breeding, ginning, technology and seed multiplication. Bruno conducted studies on the state of the art of cotton research in Africa, and on the cotton seed sector of several African countries. Presently, he is the cotton correspondent for CIRAD and member of the ICAC SEEP panel. Bruno acknowledges Dr. Lançon, the first author of this presentation, for associating him.

Muhammad Esa Attia is the Technical Product Manager at Agerris where he leads the technical team deploying the next generation of agriculture robots. Esa has more than 15 years of experience in designing, building and deploying ground and aerial field robotic systems in the aerospace, ecology, STEM education and the agriculture industries. Recently he has been leading the operational implementation of the ag robotics STEM program to demonstrate the use of agricultural robots to rural high school students across New South Wales, Australia as well as to farmers in Indonesia, Fiji and Samoa. He has a passion for all things tech and is a firm believer in making technology accessible to everyone. Esa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering (Honours) and a Masters Degree in Finance (Funds Management) from the University of New South Wales.

Dr Richard Stirzaker, a Principal Research Scientist with the CSIRO, studied agriculture at the University of Sydney and undertook post graduate studies on soil structure and plant growth. He joined CSIRO to do a postdoc on resistances to water movement in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum and has since working on agroforestry, salinity and irrigation.  His passion is developing simple tools for monitoring water and solutes that can be used in the context of adaptive learning. Dr Stirzaker invented the Full Stop wetting front detector, an ingenious device that assists irrigators to judge when sufficient water has been applied. In 2016 he set up the Virtual Irrigation Academy, which is an on-line learning system for managing water nutrients and salt.  The VIA is focussed around helping small scale farmers lift their water productivity and its membership is growing rapidly around the world see  https://via.farm/.

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 Nancy Schellhorn is co-founder and CEO of RapidAIM Insect Sensing Technologies. RapidAIM provides a service of real-time pest monitoring for targeted insect pest control. RapidAIM removes the barriers to area-wide management by taking the guesswork out of pest detection, targeted management, and validation of control.  Prior to co-founding RapidAIM, Nancy was a Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO in Brisbane Australia where she developed and lead concepts to achieve pest-suppressive landscapes; a way of measuring, designing and managing agricultural landscape mosaics for productivity and biodiversity. Dr Schellhorn received her BS in Agriculture from the University of Missouri–Columbia, a MS in Ecology from the University of Missouri-St Louis, and PhD in Entomology from University of Minnesota. In 1999, she joined CSIRO in Australia.

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 Greg Holt is Research Leader of the Cotton Production and Processing Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas and leads a team of engineers addressing issues facing cotton breeders, producers, ginners, and spinners.  The five main areas of research for the Unit include: 1) Preservation of fiber quality, 2) Cotton harvester improvements, 3) Ginning processes and machinery development, 4) Quantification of particulate matter emissions from agricultural operations, and 5) Value-added processing of agricultural substrates.  The current primary focus of the research unit is detecting and removing plastic contamination in seed cotton. Dr Holt has authored and co-authored more than 160 journal publications. He received his received his B.S. and M.S. from Texas A&M University in Agricultural Engineering and his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University in Industrial Engineering. 

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.

Thea Speechley is the Founder and CEO of RawAssembly™ and has a track record in empowering others to find new solutions, develop new business and manufacturing strategies and tackle large-scale projects in the fashion and textile industry. Thea has more than 20 years experience in Europe, the United States and China, working for a wide variety of manufacturers, retail brands and international textile sourcing events.  It is a combination of industry experience and recognition of a need for change that has inspired Thea to establish RawAssembly. Thea aspires for RawAssembly to be a platform that provides sustainable and ethical sourcing for the fashion and textile industry on a scale that can create meaningful change through a shift in sourcing culture.

Brent Crossland, Ambassador for The Textile Exchange based in Valencia, California USA is the past Head of Fiber Development for Bayer. An independent cotton sustainability consultant and Science and Conservation Lead for Wrangler, Brent has worked in the plant science industry for the past 37 years with experience in crop protection, product development and launch, seed production and the global textile supply chain. Previously he had positions with academia, independent consulting, product development and research and sales and marketing in the cotton industry. He was instrumental developing the global Certified FiberMax Cotton traceability program and developed and managed the e3 Sustainable Cotton Initiative. A well-known cotton supply chain expert, Brent presents globally on sustainable initiatives to world cotton organizations.  He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Texas A&M University and Master of Agriculture degree in Plant Science from West Texas A&M University.