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Symposium Speakers

We are excited to welcome our 2024 speakers to present at the 21st Australian Barley Technical Symposium (ABTS).

Keynote Speakers

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Anna Backhaus

Pre-breeder For Cereals at ICARDA

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Gustavo A. Slafer

Research Professor of ICREA at AGROTECNIO-CERCA Center, and the University of Lleida

Birgitte Skadhauge

Vice President, Adj. Professor Carlsberg Research Laboratory

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Nikki Else

AB InBev Global Agronomy Director

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Nils Stein

Department Head of Federal ex situ Genebank of Germany

Invited Speakers

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Kensuke Ogushi

Vice President at National Research Institute of Brewing in Higashi

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Miriam Schreiber

Cereal Bioinformatics Specialist, James Hutton Institute and the International Barley Hub in Dundee

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Christoph Dockter

Senior Scientist & Lead Cereal Trait Development, Carlsberg Research Laboratory

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Robbie Waugh

Professor of Genetics and Genomics at the University of Dundee and Director of the International Barley Hub (IBH)

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Richard Simonaitis

CEO of Grains Australia

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Anna Backhaus

Pre-breeder For Cereals

I started my journey into plant sciences with a summer internship at Purdue university working on maize. My Bsc was in plant biology and I was fortunate to complete my thesis working on wheat genetics, with Scott Boden at the John Innes Centre. I then moved to Bonn (Germany) for my master, studying flowering variation in a Barley MAGIC population, but returned afterwards to the John Innes Centre for my PhD on developmental process in control of wheat spike architecture with Cristobal Uauy.
Since 2023 I am working as pre-breeder for cereals at ICARDA. My work focuses on accelerating the identification and introgression of useful gene bank material, specifically landraces and crop wild relatives. Working for farmers in developing countries of North Africa and West Asia, my aim is to find new diversity to biotic and abiotic stresses in this region, especially heat, drought and salinity stress.

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Gustavo A. Slafer

Research Professor

Gustavo A. Slafer (PhD University of Melbourne) is Research Professor of ICREA at AGROTECNIO-CERCA Center, and the University of Lleida (Catalonia-Spain). His research has focused on studying the mechanisms underlying the responses of grain crops (mainly but not only wheat and barley) to environmental and genetic factors, with lines of research focused on understanding traits determining yield physiology and their plasticity. He published more than 200 papers, more than 40 chapters and 7 books by International Publishers. His h-index is 67 (Web of Science, Core Collection) or 90 (Google Scholar). He is Honorary Professor of the Universities of Nottingham (UK, since 2005) and Buenos Aires (Argentina, since 2018); Editor/Associate Editor of several journals; and “Fellow” of the Crop Science Society of America

Birgitte Skadhauge

Vice President, Adj. Professor Carlsberg Research Laboratory

Birgitte Skadhauge completed her studies (M. Sci degree) at The Royal and Veterinarian University, Copenhagen in 1992. This was followed by a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry and genetics at the Carlsberg Laboratory (1993-1996). Since 2003 she has been responsible for Carlsberg Raw Material Research, and in 2011 she became Director for Carlsberg Applied Research. In 2012 she was appointed Adjunct Professor at Århus University, Denmark and since 2018 Adjunct Professor at Copenhagen University. Since 2014 she has held a position as Vice President for the Carlsberg Research Laboratory and Baltika Research. She has been actively involved in establishing Traitomic A/S, a company based on Carlsberg’s FIND-ITTM (trait idenfication technology). She is a member of several scientific advisory boards and committees, appointed member of Royal Danish Academy of Sciences, Danish Industry, Board member in Secobra Recherches (France), Association of Danish variety Owners, Scandinavian Brewing School, Danish Preferred, AgroFoodTure and SEGES Innovation. 

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Nikki Else

ABI’s Sustainable Agriculture Journey

Dr. Nikki Else brings a wealth of experience in the brewing industry, with a remarkable 26 years spent at AB InBev, a leading vertically integrated brewing company. Throughout her career, Nikki has held various roles across the entire supply chain, providing her with a comprehensive understanding of the brewing process from seed to sip. Her understanding of the complexities of the supply chain allows her to make significant contributions towards sustainable practices within ABInBev. Her current position as Global Agronomy Director, where her strong dedication to sustainability now drives her efforts.

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Nils Stein

Department Head of the Federal ex situ Genebank of Germany

Nils Stein is head of the Federal ex
situ Genebank of Germany and of the research group Genomics of Genetic
Resources at Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK).
He is also professor of Crop Plant Genetics at Martin-Luther-University in
Halle-Wittenberg, Germany. His research focuses on genome dynamics and
evolution, structural and comparative genome analysis, with a leading role in
genome sequencing of the small grain cereals barley, wheat and rye. This work
is currently being extended into pangenome analysis of the three species and
their wild relatives. 

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Kensuke Ogushi

Vice President at National Research Institute of Brewing in Higashi 

Dr. Kensuke Ogushi grew up in Kumamoto city, Japan. He studied wheat genetics at the Faculty of Agriculture at Kyoto University from 1983 and subsequently completed an MAg in crop evolution at the Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences of Kyoto University, graduating in 1990.

He then worked for Sapporo Breweries LTD. as a barley breeder in the joint barley breeding program with the University of Adelaide. From 2006 he led the malt and hops procurement team as Chief Fieldman and enjoyed fine collaboration with Australian maltsters and barley supply chain managers. During this time, he also completed a PhD in plant breeding in Nagoya University. From 2013 he was Director of the Bioresources R&D Department leading the barley and hop R&D groups.

In 2021 Dr Ogushi joined the National Research Institute of Brewing in Higashi Hiroshima, Japan, as Vice President, where he is responsible for human resources, risk management and supervising several international projects.

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Miriam Schreiber

Cereal Bioinformatics Specialist

Miriam Schreiber is a cereal bioinformatics specialist at the James Hutton Institute and the International Barley Hub in Dundee, Scotland, UK. Her previous work as a postdoctoral researcher focused among other work on big transcriptome and genotype datasets of a barley European spring-two row population. Miriam’s more recent work has been centred on barley genome assemblies and gene expression in a pan-transcriptome context. Involvement in the BOLD project also led to the first extensive analysis on variant identification in grass pea. Her recent favourite work is using computational approaches to identify causal mutations in the Bowman near isogenic line mutant collection.

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Christoph Dockter

Senior Scientist & Lead Cereal Trait Development, Carlsberg Research Laboratory

Christoph Dockter is a Senior Scientist at the Carlsberg Research Laboratory (CRL) leading the cereal trait development research group in the Raw Materials department. The overall focus of his research is discovery of industrially relevant cereal traits and understanding the genetics and biochemistry behind them. Christoph collaborates closely with both breeders and academia bridging the fundamental research to potential applications. At CRL, he is part of a team that recently established a novel trait identification technology (named FIND-IT ™) for fast discovery of pre-targeted genetic variants in large genomic populations allowing to significantly speed-up the development of new crop varieties and improved microorganisms.

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Robbie Waugh

Professor of Genetics and Genomics at the University of Dundee and Director of the International Barley Hub (IBH)

Robbie is a Professor of Genetics and Genomics at the University of Dundee and Director of the International Barley Hub (IBH), an Au$70M Innovation Centre located on the James Hutton Campus on the outskirts of Dundee in Scotland.  IBH aims to engage the International barley science community, representatives from across the barley supply chain and Government policy divisions to promote barley as sustainable and economically valuable crop for the future.  IBH provides sector-wide discussion and support, advice and dissemination of research outputs to multiple stakeholders, ensuring that, where possible, the outcomes of research derive impact.  Critically, IBH has a major role in training the next generation of barley scientists through an extensive industry-linked PhD program.  Robbie was an early adopter of genomics and informatics technologies, and his group develop practical tools and informational resources that pervade basic and applied barley genetics/genomics research.  He exploits these platforms extensively for genetic analyses, largely focused around aspects of morphological, developmental and adaptive traits with natural biodiversity at the core.

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Richard Simonaitis

CEO of Grains Australia

Richard brings a breadth and depth of industry experience to the role of Grains Australia CEO, having worked for 30 years in senior management and leadership roles in the grains industry and in export-commodity industries. 

He steers Grains Australia’s approach to delivering value through bringing together critical functions for the Australian grains industry.

Grains Australia is responsible for vital industry services and functions including trade and market access, classification, market insights and market education.

Prior to Grains Australia, Richard led the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) to significant accomplishments including delivering valuable insights into the outlook for Australian grain. Richard is a director of the Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council.

Park onsite and choose from 329 guest rooms and spacious suites. Concentrate, relax and rejuvenate in Work-life guest rooms designed for the modern day business traveller. The in-room streaming app and plush bedding make relaxing a breeze. Mornings in your room come with floor-to-ceiling windows, unrivalled views of the city or Adelaide Hills, guaranteed wake up calls and an espresso capsule machine to kick start your day.

Take a dip in the show-stopping, rooftop infinity pool and workout in the fully-equipped gym which is open 24/7. Dine among the 28 clouds at Adelaide’s highest rising restaurant: Koomo and enjoy a modern Asian influenced menu. Kick back and relax at Luna10, our poolside bar and cocktail lounge featuring unforgettable views, modern working spaces, charging ports, free Wi-Fi and an all-day dining philosophy which makes the most out of business and life.