Program 1: Train a new generation of researchers and leaders to build capability for Australian agriculture

We will fast-track ECR and HDR training and mentoring to build national capability and capacity for applying new genetic and analytical technologies to crop improvement. Simultaneously, we will build a community of best practice that will endure beyond the lifespan of the Centre by establishing best-practice mentoring and Professional Intensive Courses.

University Investigators: Deputy Director Training and Education, Associate Professor Tony Millar; Centre Executive, Training representative Professor Spencer Whitney

The Professional Intensive Courses (PICs)

Understanding and Engaging with the Regulatory Landscape
Convenor: Rachel Ankeny, Joan Leach, Emily Buddle

Understanding and Engaging with the Regulatory Landscape. This course will develop a richer understanding of the regulatory structures associated with agricultural biotechnology, within Australia with reference to the global context. Participants will explore the complexities of gene technology regulation and its community impacts in relation to their own research. The course will be delivered by experts on regulatory practice and theory from ANU, UA and elsewhere, in partnership with OGTR, FSANZ and science policy and regulation scholars.

Responsible Research Innovation for Future Crop Technologies
Convenor: Rachel Ankeny

All scientists strive to achieve tangible impacts on policy and practice, yet few have the knowledge or skillset to accomplish this, and traditional scientific training programs rarely teach them. This course will provide students with theoretical and practical knowledge, skills and tools to operate effectively at the science-policy-practice interface. The ITTC will build on an established ANU course, using industry and policy experts to teach practical ways to bridge the gap between science, policy and practice.

GMO stewardship and IP Management
Convenor: Stuart Roy

GMO Stewardship and IP management. A training regime to prepare researchers and industry for effective handling of IP and GMOs. Field trials are highly regulated by the OGTR, with strict licencing conditions and auditing; GMO research for deployment requires international stands of GMO stewardship. ITTC members with >12 years’ GMO experience will teach OGTR-compliant standard operating procedures, risk assessments and stewardship protocols. Training will include face-to-face and virtual field visits, with 3D virtual simulations of a walk-through of a GM field site, including examples of OGTR licence requirements and corrective actions.

Computational Biology
Convenors: Benjamin Schwessinger and Jiajia Li

Exploiting genomics and phenomics information for crop research requires sophisticated bioinformatics and multivariate statistics. A training program focusing on big data analytics will be developed in the ANU Biological Data Institute in collaboration with DART. An international initiative involving P3 leader Ben Schwessinger on reproducible research practices received funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Work related to this initiative was supported by the Directors Innovation Fund in 2019. The initiative runs training sessions, including the Honours and Master data management workshop.

Principles and Practices of Science Engagements
Convenor: Rachel Ankeny

This course builds deeper understanding of how science and technology interact with policy. It will unite expertise from the Crawford School of Public Policy and CPAS. Each session will involve policy experts, ensuring analytical relevance and depth, and engage with best evidence and research in science and technology studies.

Plant Breeding
Convenor: Barry Pogson

This course may provide participants with an understanding of the basic principles and strategies used in plant breeding. Participants would learn about the objectives of plant breeding, experimental designs for plant breeding trials, germplasm management, different breeding methods, biotechnological tools, and intellectual property protection. Practical training on field data collection, statistical analysis, and selection of superior genotypes may also be provided. The course may also touch upon future trends in plant breeding, such as precision breeding, genomic selection, and gene editing.


The ARC Training Centre for Accelerated Future Crops Development is funded by the Australian Research Council under its Industrial Transformation Training Hubs Program to run from 2022 to 2027.

It is a collaboration of universities, government research agencies and the Australian grains sector’s key stakeholders in training, R&D, social engagement, responsible innovation, breeding, marketing and delivery.

It also has international partners in gene-editing, SynBio, crop breeding, and, other partnerships for co-developing deep technologies to transform the agriculture industry and global food security.