Welcome to Odonata Foundation Industry PhD students

Meet the Odonata Foundation Industry PhD students who are working on the Farm-scale Natural Capital Accounting Project Natural Values team!

We are thrilled to welcome our new post-graduate students, Annette Cavanagh and Berenice Della Porta, to the project. Annette and Berenice were successful applicants for the Odonata Foundation – La Trobe University-Industry PhD scholarships.

Annette and Berenice will be part of our Natural Values team. Annette will be supervised by Dr John Morgan and will study the relationship between on-farm natural capital and native plant species. Berenice will be supervised by Dr Jen Wood and will focus on soil biology and measures of soil condition.

Odonata CEO Sam Marwood says that for the not-for-profit that supports biodiversity impact solutions, it is vital to invest in research students for the future.

"Measuring natural capital is going to underpin the health of Australia's landscape - we truly believe that this data is going to ensure the sustainability of Australia's productive landscape by demonstrating the value of nature, for the next century."

Meet Annette and Berenice below.

Berenice Della Porta (pictured above)
I am an Italian/Nicaraguan graduate researcher at La Trobe University who will research soil biology for our Farm-scale Natural Capital Accounting project.

Over the last 6 years, I worked in horticultural research and plant breeding in rural Victoria, which has given me the very privileged opportunity to collaborate with farmers while learning about industry practices and sustainability. Before that, I completed a double Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences and International Development at La Trobe University in 2016.

I am incredibly passionate about sustainable agricultural practices that promote biodiversity conservation, mitigate the effects of climate change, and ultimately guarantee food security. We know that soils are at the centre of any healthy food system and that they potentially hold many solutions to our environmental crisis, but there is still so much we need to understand. This is why research in partnership with farmers and other industry representatives provides such a valuable opportunity to further understand what constitutes healthy soils and how we can preserve them for the future.

Annette Cavanagh 
I grew up on a small property with bushland surroundings outside of Yea, giving me a love of nature, and a desire to conserve it, from a young age.

I completed my honours in botany, have worked as a botanist with an environmental consultant and have volunteered with various environmental organisations, including being the president of my local Landcare group. My role in Landcare instilled my passion for community-driven conservation and demonstrated the importance of knowledge sharing and collaborative efforts amongst all private landholders. I wish to continue to promote conservation on private land and improve and share our understanding of the implicit value of nature to our lives and livelihoods.