Invited speakers

Plenary speakers

Prof Kirstin Bett

Session: Big Picture – Legumes for the 21st Century
Read Kirstin's bio

Kirstin Bett is Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, Canada.  She teaches courses at the graduate and undergraduate level in plant breeding and plant genetics.  She is responsible for a common bean breeding program that has released several varieties targeted at the short season growing regions of western Canada.  She has also established a complementary genetics program that uses classical and molecular techniques to better understand the traits that lead to the development of superior pulse crop cultivars. This has included work in seed quality, disease resistance and flowering time and has extended to the use of wild species as a source of useful variability. She has been involved in the development of genomic resources for lentil and common bean including leading the effort to sequence genomes of lentil and its wild relatives. She is currently wrapping up a Genome Canada project focused on the genetics of seed quality traits in lentil – a natural progression from her previous Genome Canada grant on domestication and adaptation in lentil. Her third Genome Canada project has just started and focuses on the genetics underlying the value of lentil to rotations with wheat in western Canada.

Prof Stig Andersen

Session: Structural genomics
Read Stig's bio

Professor Stig Uggerhøj Andersen received his PhD degree in 2004 from Aarhus University, Denmark and then worked in a local biotech start-up company before taking up a two-year postdoctoral position focusing on stem cell biology and cell cycle regulation in Jan U. Lohmann’s group in Detlef Weigel’s department at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany. He then returned to Aarhus University, where his group focuses on legume genetics and genomics powered by next-generation sequencing.

Recent work includes establishment of a large insertion mutant collection for legume genetics (https://lotus.au.dk/) and investigation of natural diversity and adaptation in Lotus japonicus, white clover and faba bean. Faba bean is a major focus area and Prof. Andersen acts as partner or coordinator in a number of international faba bean projects (NORFAB, ProFaba, IMFABA, FabuLOX, N2CROP) and coordinated the faba bean genome consortium (www.fabagenome.dk). For all three legumes, Prof. Andersen’s research group studies interactions with soil microbes, exploiting natural diversity and single-cell sequencing to decipher mechanisms and optimize interactions.

Prof Michelle Colgrave

Session: Legume end-uses
Read Michelle's bio

Professor Michelle Colgrave is the Deputy Director for Impact leading teams of scientists who are delivering outcomes to support a healthy future for the Australian agrifood sector, through the translation and commercialisation of sustainable food systems research. As former leader of CSIRO’s Future Protein Mission, Michelle seeks to promote open and informed discussion about what lays ahead for our agrifood systems.

She is also a Professor of Food and Agricultural Proteomics at Edith Cowan University, and chief investigator on the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Innovations in Peptide and Protein Science. Her research interests include the application of proteomics, the study of proteins using mass spectrometry, to agriculture and food science to the benefit of human health. 

Prof Dave Edwards

Session: Bioinformatics
Read Dave's bio

Professor Edwards gained an Honours degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Nottingham and a PhD from the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge. He has held positions within academia, government and industry in the UK, Canada and Australia. In 2015 he moved to the University of Western Australia as Professor in Plant Genomics and in 2022 established the Centre for Applied Bioinformatics, supporting the continued growth of Bioinformatics across agricultural, environmental and biomedical disciplines.

He is one of Australia’s leading bioinformatics researchers, recognised as a Highly Cited researcher by Clarivate each year since 2019. His research interests include the structure and expression of plant genomes, the discovery and application of genome variation and the use of artificial intelligence to understand traits, with a focus on crop plants and accelerating crop improvement in the face of climate change. 

Dr Sukhjiwan Kaur

Session: Genomic and predictive breeding
Read Sukhjiwan's bio

Dr Kaur serves as the Research Leader in Applied Genomics and Predictive Breeding at Agriculture Victoria, based in Melbourne, Australia. With a solid academic background, including a Masters degree in Biochemistry and a PhD in Molecular Breeding and Genetics, she is widely recognized for her expertise in legume genetics, genomics, and computational breeding.

Over nearly two decades, Dr Kaur has made significant contributions to advancing legume research. She has notably pioneered the development of genomic resources for legume crops and led the development of cost-effective large-scale genotyping platforms, revolutionizing breeding programs on a considerable scale.

A standout accomplishment of Dr Kaur’s career has been her role in the transformation of Australian lentil and field pea breeding programs through the incorporation of genomics-assisted approaches, ushering in a new era of efficiency and productivity.

Dr Kaur’s research is primarily focused on the integration of genomics, quantitative genetics, and statistical modelling techniques to optimize crop production. Her work has not only advanced the understanding of plant genetics but has also facilitated the development of innovative strategies for improved crop yield and sustainability.

Prof Maria Carlote Vaz Patto

Session: Abiotic stress tolerance
Read Maria's bio

Dr Vaz Patto is a Principal Investigator at the Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica António Xavier (ITQB NOVA) in Oeiras, Portugal. Here, she heads the Plant Sciences Division and directs the PlantX Lab. Her research focus on understanding the genetic and genomic basis of complex plant traits, using various statistical genetic and genomic approaches. Currently, her team is studying resistance to environmental stresses like drought, flooding, diseases and pests on legumes, particularly grass pea and common bean. Additionally, they investigate nutritional, health-promoting and taste-related legume qualities.

Dr Vaz Patto has been actively involved in the Legume Community for more than two decades, concentrating on applying plant quantitative genetics to breeding, and engaging young researchers and end-users (such as farmers, processors and consumers) in exploiting the potential of underutilized legumes. She currently serves as Vice President of the International Legume Society.

Prof Tom Warkentin

Session: Plant defence
Read Tom's bio

Dr Tom Warkentin is a Professor in the Crop Development Centre (CDC)/Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan. Tom is breeding pea and soybean cultivars for western Canada, and together with graduate students, post-docs and technicians, he is conducting research to address the key challenges and opportunities associated with these crops.

Tom (h-index 63, google scholar) and colleagues have published on research related to improving disease resistance, abiotic stress resistance, protein concentration and quality, and nitrogen fixation in pea, as well as research related to adaptation of soybean to the short season, frontier regions of western Canada. Pea varieties arising from the CDC program have greater than 60% market share in western Canada. The CDC pea and soybean breeding programs use a combination of conventional and molecular breeding approaches.

Prof Jim Weller

Session: Plant development
Read Jim's bio

Associate Professor Jim Weller completed his PhD at the University of Tasmania on the genetics of light-regulated development in pea. After post-doctoral work at RIKEN in Japan and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, he returned to Australia in 2002 to work on flowering time control in legumes. He also has longstanding interests in the comparative biology and genetics of domestication in this important crop group. He currently leads a national project on pulse phenology for the Grains Research and Development Corporation and is a CI in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success, which is exploring new approaches for the translation of fundamental genetic and physiological insights to crop breeding. He has been a keen participant in ICLGG since its inception in 2001.