Frances Shapter, a Southern Cross University molecular scientist who is investigating Australian native grasses as an alternative food source, has been selected to take part in the Australian Government’s 2020 Summit in Canberra on April 19 and 20.

Ms Shapter is a post-doctoral research fellow with the Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics and also runs a small beef cattle property at Bentley, north-west of Lismore.

The Australia 2020 Summit will bring together 1000 of the country’s ‘best and brightest brains’ to tackle the long-term challenges confronting Australia’s future.

More than 8000 people nominated for places in the Summit, which will cover the 10 key areas of: productivity agenda: Australian economy; sustainability and climate change; rural Australia; health; communities and families; Indigenous Australia; creative Australia; Australian governance; and Australia’s future in the world.

Ms Shapter will participate in the forum covering ‘Rural Australia: future directions for rural industries and rural communities’.

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to participate in the 2020 summit,” Ms Shapter said.

“Australia’s farmers and agricultural researchers are among the most technologically advanced and efficient in the world.

“I am looking forward to contributing to the development of a plan that builds on the rural industry’s achievements and ensures its economic security into the future.”

Professor Robert Henry, director of the Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics, said Frances Shapter was in a good position to promote the role of research in agriculture.

“Fran is connected to both the farming community and the research community and this will allow her to make unique contributions to communication between these groups,” Professor Henry said.

Ms Shapter grew up in the Lismore area, completing her schooling at Lismore High. She studied agricultural science and then spent a year teaching before heading overseas.

After returning to Lismore she began working at the Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics where she undertook her PhD. That study was completed at the end of 2007 and she will graduate later this year.

In August last year, she was one of 10 people to be selected by the Australian National Farmers Federation to take part in the World Congress of Young Farmers, in Buenos Aires, and a week-long study tour visiting research centres and farms in Argentina and Brazil.