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Congratulations to Isabel for completing her PhD!

Isabel Arevalo-Vigne with Trevor Cochrane from Garden Gurus. Image supplied by PBCRC

Congratulations to Isabel Arevalo-Vigne for the successful completion and acceptance of her PhD thesis with the University of Western Australia.

Isabel’s research was about engaging communities in biosecurity, particularly the role of science communication and incentives in managing fruit fly.

What was the best part about your PhD?

“I am happy to see that growers and people on the ground are very eager to learn and will share their challenges and worries about fruit growing. And it was very rewarding to see how biosecurity measures became easier to adopt when science was explained in a way that had meaning to them and made sense.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity that PBCRC gave me to work on a project that many people told me was going to be a problem to undertake. I got the opportunity to network with other researchers in other disciplines and to do an internship with Plant Health Australia. I also made a few friends that I plan to keep.”

Here is an overview from Isabel of her research thesis:

“The persistence of Mediterranean fruit fly populations has been traditionally addressed with the development of sophisticated technologies to control fruit fly. While the problem was usually focused on how to kill fruit fly, the outcomes of the actual practice and implementation of the techniques revealed flaws in this approach.

“Since the disturbances that promote fruit fly invasions and outbreaks are the result of human activities, then preventing and regulating fruit fly responses to environmental change in man-made environments requires modifying those human actions that facilitate the spread and prevalence of Mediterranean fruit fly, and that supposes changing human behaviour.

“Such behavioural change will only be possible by people understanding what we are trying to tell them. That is when project managers, policy makers and fruit growers share the minimum knowledge base to communicate. In other words, having an understanding of the science that regulates fruit fly dispersal, survival and control.”

One of Isabel’s thesis examiners was the late Don McInnis, a recognised international figure with the MOSCAMED (Mosca Mediterarnea) fruit fly program around the world.

He had very favourable comments regarding Isabel’s research:

“Her survey and the analysis she made of the voluminous data she obtained provided a strong basis for her salient conclusions that: (1) education on relevant scientific facts about fruit fly biology, and the resulting communication of such knowledge act as incentives to provide greater participation by the entire community in area-wide control of fruit flies, and (2) incentives and extrinsic motivators are most useful when they lead to the development of intrinsic motivations that, in tum, lead to efforts to control fruit flies through personal choice.”

Well done Isabel – we wish you all the best in future endeavours.

Students in the PBCRC PhD program are well on their way to completion. By the close of the CRC in mid-2018 there will 22 PhDs and 1 Masters student adding to much needed human capacity in the biosecurity research community.

Source: PBCRC

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