Rotorua Events Centre,
New Zealand


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Keynote speakers


Professor Juliet A. Gerrard, FRSNZ, HonFRSC

Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor
Kaitohutohu Mātanga Pūtaiao Matua ki te Primia

Professor Juliet Gerrard trained at Oxford University, where she completed a First Class Honours degree in Chemistry and a DPhil in Biological Chemistry.

In 1993, she moved to Aotearoa New Zealand, as a research scientist at Crop & Food Research. She was appointed as a Lecturer in Biochemistry at the University of Canterbury in 1998, where she became Professor and Co-Director of the Biomolecular Interaction Centre.

In 2014, she moved to the University of Auckland as a Professor in the School of Biological Sciences and the School of Chemical Sciences and later the Associate Dean for Research in the Faculty of Science.

Juliet’s research covers a broad base and is interdisciplinary, cutting across biochemistry, chemistry, health, agricultural and food science and biomaterial design. It also incorporates a full spectrum of fundamental and applied research. She has held an Industry and Outreach Fellowship with Callaghan Innovation and founded a start-up company.

Juliet has over 150 publications, as well as three books. She won a National Teaching Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching in 2004 and played an increasingly governance role in the research sector, including as Chair of the Marsden Council and a Director for Plant & Food Research, prior to her appointment in 2018 as the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.


Dr Brian Farneti

Edmund Mach Foundation, San Michele all'Adige (Italy)

 “It’s a dangerous business, BRIAN, going out of your door,” he used to say. “You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to”. Brian’s journey, throughout the arduous and curvy roads of fruit physiology and postharvest management, began at the University of Bologna and at the Technical University of Munich where he obtained his BSc and MSc in “Technology of plant production” and “Horticultural sciences”, respectively.

In 2008, he moved to Wageningen University (The Netherlands) for his PhD degree in “Plant Science” with the thesis entitled “Tomato quality: from the field to the consumer. Interaction between genotype, cultivation and postharvest conditions”

From 2012 till 2015 he received a Post Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Bologna in collaboration with the Edmund Mach Foundation. In that period, most of his research activity was focused on quality and nutraceutical aspects of apple and pear fruit, mostly related with breeding activity and postharvest handling.   

Since 2016,  Brian is a researcher at the “Genomics and biology of fruit crops” department of the Edmund Mach Foundation.  His research activity is mostly oriented towards a comprehensive study of fruit quality with the aim to enhance the fruit quality throughout the entire production chain: from breeding to consumers. This needs a detailed quantification of quality attributes in distinct segments of the production chain and it implies synergy of approaches from different branches of knowledge, from genetic to metabolic analysis. Therefore his activity is mostly focused on the development and application of high-resolution phenotyping techniques  and omics methodologies to dissect some of the most important quality traits (i.e. texture, flavor, and nutraceutical compounds) of fruit species cultivated in Northern Italy, for instance strawberry (Fragaria spp.), blueberry (Vaccinium spp), raspberry (Rubus spp.), and apple (Malus spp). He is currently involved in several projects dealing with ripening, host-pathogen interaction, and post-harvest of several other fruit species, such as peaches, pears, kiwifruits, almonds, or walnuts. 


Professor Isabel Lara

Universitat de Lleida, Catalonia (Spain)

Dr. Isabel Lara trained at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), where she obtained a degree in Biology and a PhD in Plant Physiology.

Since 1996, she has held an academic position at the School of Agrifood and Forestry Science and Engineering (ETSEA) of Universitat de Lleida (UdL). She is a member of the Postharvest Unit, a consolidated research group within the Catalan research system (Generalitat de Catalunya, Spain), and a member of the Postharvest Biology and Technology group at the AGROTÈCNIO center (UdL). She has also taken institutional responsibilities as the Coordinator of the UdL Doctorate Program on “Agricultural, Forest and Food Science & Technology” (2005-2010), and as the Deputy Head of Studies at the ETSEA (2010-2012).

Isabel’s experience in postharvest research spans over 25 years, and has focused on diverse aspects of fruit ripening and quality. She has published 60 articles in SCI periodicals, as well as numerous papers in other scientific and technical journals and 90 contributions to national and international symposia. Current research interests include the role of fruit cuticle in modulating postharvest quality, storage potential and the response to environmental conditions.


Associate Professor Karli Verghese

Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre, Australia

Associate Professor Karli Verghese is the Reduce Program Leader of the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (FFW CRC) in Australia. The FFW CRC is a national ten year $121 million research centre that brings together industry, research and the community to capitalise on Australia’s food waste opportunities. Through the three research and development programs, the FFW CRC will REDUCE food waste across the supply chain, TRANSFORM unavoidable waste into innovative high-value co-products, and ENGAGE with industry and consumers to create change. She has played an active role in the FFW CRC including being part of the CRC bid development team in 2017 and in her capacity as Reduce Program Leader has been working as part of the CRC Management Team to establish the centre, the research program and initial research portfolio in conjunction with CRC participants.

Karli is also a Principal Research Fellow in the Industrial Design program of the School of Design, RMIT University, Melbourne. Her research themes include the role of packaging, food loss and waste and life cycle assessment. These projects have involved co-design approaches with industry and government. She also led LCA in the last frontier – a six year project funded by the Australian Antarctic Division that developed an Environmental Impact Reduction Strategy for Australia’ Casey station. In her capacity at RMIT, Karli supervisors Honours, Masters and PhD students. Current research projects that Karli is leading include DIRECT – the development of a business-ready, digital, cloud-based food waste tool can assist industry to reduce food loss and waste; Save Food Packaging Design Criteria and Framework; Consumer perceptions of the role of packaging in minimising food waste; and Opportunities for Australia’s packaging and processing machinery sector to tackle food waste.


Dr Kim Phan-Thien

University of Sydney

Kim Phan-Thien is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney, with broad interests in the measurement and management of food quality and safety across food supply chains. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Horticultural Science) from the University of Sydney and a PhD (Food Science and Technology) from UNSW. From 2014-2019, she had responsibility for coordination and curriculum development of the new Food and Agribusiness degree at the University of Sydney.


Professor Silin Zhong

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Prof Zhong got his Bachelor degree of biochemistry at the Jilin University (1998-2002), and did his PhD at the University of Nottingham (2003-2008) working on plant hormone. He then took a Human Frontier fellowship (2009-2013) to worked in the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University to study epigenome. In 2013, he joined the School of Life Sciences at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on functional genomics and gene transcriptional regulation related to fruit ripening and C3C4 photosynthesis.