People

Vic Drought Hub - Farmland 7
People
Michael Tausz
Professor Michael TauszDirector

Throughout his career in research and academia, Michael investigated how crops and trees, and the related agro and forest ecosystems adapt to changing and challenging environments.

Having worked in three different countries, learn more about our Director.

Vili Iese 2022
Dr Viliamu IeseAssociate Director – Drought

Vili has just joined the Hub as Associate Director – Drought. Please check back for his profile.

Sabine Tausz-Posch-LR
Dr Sabine Tausz-PoschAssociate Director – Agricultural Innovation

Sabine is a crop scientist with an overall interest in the environmental, economic and social sustainability of agriculture.

Before joining the Victoria Drought and Innovation Hub as Associate Director (Agricultural Innovation) earlier in 2022, Sabine held several academic positions in plant science, including The University of Melbourne (from 2008-17), the University of Birmingham (UK, from 2017-18) and CQUniversity (from 2019-21).

Sabine's research broadly investigates plant responses in agro-ecosystems to changing environments, particularly in relation to increasing atmospheric CO2 and drought, to accelerate our understanding how the environment impacts ecosystem services and goods.

Sabine has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers, including journal articles, book chapters and conference papers, and throughout her career she was also a keen teacher and has co-ordinated and taught 25 subjects into diplomas, bachelors, and master's degrees.

Sabine has a PhD and a MSc in plant science from the University of Graz, Austria. Her PhD was supported by a prestigious scholarship from the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Anita Chennell
Anita ChennellOperations Manager

Anita has a background in agriculture and extensive experience engaging with Victoria's regional communities. Her appointment to the Vic Drought & Innovation Hub in November 2021, sees her returning full circle to Dookie, having graduated from Melbourne University, Dookie Campus, with a Bachelor of Applied Science in the early 1990s.

Anita’s first-hand experience in agriculture comes through multiple family generations involved in farming and the rural sector; she and her family currently live on their small grazing property outside of Rutherglen.

With strengths and qualifications in business management and strategic planning, Anita implements a systems-thinking approach to identify new opportunities to lead change. She has worked in government, private and not-for-profit organisations in a career that has focused on collaborating with others. Her experience includes roles in scientific research, business-strategy development, community development, organisational leadership and change management.

Fiona Best
Fiona BestRegional Co-Ordinator, Vic Hub + CEO of BCG

Fiona has worked internationally supporting the delivery of agricultural research to farming communities, and been recognised nationally for her communication and agricultural extension skills.

Heavily invested in creating vibrant rural communities, Fiona is community minded and sits on the Mallee Regional Partnership as well as numerous community committees.

As well as being the Hub’s Regional Director, Fiona is also CEO of Birchip Cropping Group (the Vic Hub’s north-west node), having returned there in November 2019 after nine years teaching agriculture in the education sector. In her position as BCG’s CEO, Fiona works to bring relevant agricultural research and extension opportunities to farming communities by attracting investments to improve the prosperity of broadacre farming locally, regionally and nationally.

Fiona grew up on a family farm in southern NSW, cropping and producing sheep, and went on to study a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne.

Rebecca Lester
Professor Rebecca LesterKnowledge-Broker (Lead), Vic Hub + Director for Centre for Regional and Rural Futures, Deakin University

With her expertise in integrating knowledge to create new understanding, Rebecca leads the small, expert team of Knowledge-Brokers who combine scientific and communications expertise for the Vic Hub.

Rebecca’s scientific background is in managing aquatic ecosystems, including the intersection with ecological theory, autecology, related disciplines (e.g. hydrology and geomorphology) and the social and economic impacts of natural resource management. She specialises in synthesising knowledge across disciplines, types of species (e.g. vegetation, invertebrates and fish) and in space and time, including developing predictive models.

Rebecca’s projects include developing a framework for a Basin-wide ecological response model for the Murray-Darling Basin.

Passionate about regional development in Victoria and, as well as being the Vic Hub’s Lead Knowledge-Broker, Rebecca is also Director for Centre for Regional and Rural Futures, Deakin University (one of the Hub’s collaborative universities).

Peter Fisher-LR
Dr Peter FisherVictoria Soil Co-ordinator

Peter has extensive experience of working in drought-related regions, including Africa, Latin America and closer to home in Western Australia. As Victoria Soils Co-ordinator, Peter brings to the Hub extensive experience in leading multi-disciplinary research for improving farming systems, for both production and environmental outcomes.

For the past 20 years, Peter has worked extensively with growers and grower groups as Group Leader for Soil Physics at Agriculture Victoria, using his specialist skills in soil structure, soil water properties, sodic soils, soil carbon and innovative AgTech.

Peter has led numerous research projects related to soil science, farming systems and the environment, including controlled traffic farming, precision agriculture and life-cycle assessment of agricultural systems.

Peter holds Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Engineering status.

Dr Daniel Forwood
Dr Daniel ForwoodInnovation Broker

Daniel joined the Vic Hub in November 2022. His research background, combined with career experience in cross-sectoral agricultural policy, stakeholder engagement and government relations will see him promote and foster agricultural innovation by building on these connections and relationships.

Read more about our Innovation Broker, including his PhD in animal science, which focused on utilising discarded vegetables as alternative ruminant feeds.

(The Innovation Broker role is funded through an agreement with AgriFutures Australia.)

SS Oct2022 colour IMG 9068 LR
Samantha SchellingSocial Media & Communications Officer

Sam joined the Vic Hub in October 2022, as part of the Hub’s expansion. Since graduating from Dookie Agricultural College with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Agriculture), her career has focused around the two things she loves: agriculture and communications.

Aside from her love of Australian ag, dictionaries, kelpies and cheese, see more about our Social Media & Comms Officer.

Director

With a PhD in plant science from the University of Graz, Austria, Michael spent the first years of his academic career at that university, with...

Innovation Broker

With a background as an animal scientist, along with career experience in agricultural policy, advocacy, stakeholder engagement and government relations, Daniel’s experience to date has...

Social Media & Comms Officer 

Before joining the Hub, our Social Media & Comms Officer worked for small family-owned businesses, not-for-profits and large corporations, as a journalist, marketing & comms...
Vic Drought Hub - Farmland 7