Tracey Steinrucken

July 30th, 2021

Area of research:

Biocontrol of invasive plants using plant pathogens, Plant Pathology, Microbial ecology, Mycology, Biosecurity

Research project details:

We are aiming to create a bioherbicide for the management of giant rat’s tail grass (“GRT” an important weed across Australia) and four close relatives (Sporobolus) using one or more fungal pathogens. GRT causes an economic loss of $60 million/year in Northern Australia alone. After screening over 60 candidates, we’ve shown that 12 can cause mortality in the five target species and the next step s to determine if these are host-specific and can be further tested to show efficacy and pathogenicity. If successful, we aim to navigate regulatory framework of the APVMA to produce a commercial product for use by landholders and managers.

Business Unit and Location:

Tropical Weeds Team, Health and Biosecurity, Dutton Park

My expectations from a mentoring partnership:

I’m just over halfway through my postdoc and want to connect with someone to talk about the next step in my career pathway. This includes trying to decide whether to stay in Government research or move towards commercial or academia. I have experience in both business and science, having done a BCom and had my own scientific consulting business. I would therefore appreciate meeting with someone who has navigated one or more of these industries.
I have two young children and work/life balance is a major challenge I face so my preference is that my mentor also has children and to that end, I feel like a person identifying as female (or with significant interruptions to their career due to childcare responsibilities) would be a good match. I’m also looking at the possibility of opportunities abroad particularly in Germany or Scandinavia (where our families are).
I have always found that a more formal mentoring arrangement is beneficial for me – previously I’ve had an arrangement whereby we met once a month and decided on a vague or specific topic on which to focus. The time of the meeting each month can be flexible given the last-minute changes that happen each day!
If you live/work nearby, I’d love the chance to meet in person but I’m happy with WebEx or Zoom too.
In terms of background, a mentor with experience in phylogenetics, mycology, plant pathology would be great but I’m also looking to broaden my career scope to include biosecurity risk assessment, policy creation and mitigation more broadly.

My general interests:

I love watching most sports and I play soccer on a local women’s outdoor team. When home, I enjoy gardening and baking, my family and I love camping and hiking and (when possible) we travel as much as possible. My partner and I both have family interstate and overseas (Sweden and Switzerland) and have found navigating that difficult, especially with young children.
I’m a Fulbright Alumnus, an am passionate about cultural exchange, conservation, equality, indigenous rights, and promoting STEM to kids of all ages.

Find me online!