Kelly Hill

Photo of Kelly Hill

Molecular Biologist

Laboratory work, designing experiments, supervising students and writing grant applications, Kelly’s work as Senior Research Officer at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) is all that and more.

Her current research focuses on insects and crop diseases, protecting South Australia’s agriculture industry.

I studied nanotechnology at Flinders University and gained a Bachelor of Science. I then did the research for both my Honours and PhD at CSIRO Molecular and Health Technologies.

My PhD project focused on new technologies and tests that monitor groups of molecules in the human body important in processes such as sight, taste and smell.

After gaining my doctorate, I joined a research project at SARDI (a division of PIRSA) that was looking at insect olfaction – the way they detect each other – and how we might mimic that to detect pests in grain.

I’m still based in the entomology group but also work closely with plant pathologists looking for new ways to detect and identify fungal spores that affect crops.

Using molecular biology in the early detection and identification of plant pests and disease-causing pathogens can not only lead to more efficient farming practices but also help reduce the environmental impacts of control strategies.

My smartest move so far was to travel to Zurich to carry out part of my PhD research project in a laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The experience gave me a real understanding of my own capabilities as a researcher.

I love applying new technologies, theories or techniques to problems and hopefully making a positive contribution.

I’ve learned that you should take opportunities as they arise – and that they aren’t always as clearly laid out as you may think.

Don’t be afraid to pursue your ideas, even if you think they’re a little outside the norm.

While I come from a completely different scientific background – nanotechnology – I’m excited that I can see how tools and techniques used in other fields of research can be used to answer questions or solve problems in the agricultural industry.

Quote : "To be successful in a scientific career, you need curiosity, patience, open-mindedness and attention to detail."

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