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Research and Innovation

Tropical Agriculture, Aquaculture and Biosecurity Supervisors

Higher Degree by Research
Tropical biosecurity - RINA banner

Meet the supervisors who develop research capabilities in areas of primary production, focusing on horticulture, broadacre cropping systems, pastoral industries, biosecurity and aquaculture, and to advance and support agricultural sector development across Northern Australia.

Exciting new HDR opportunities in these research disciplines have developed at CDU with the new Research Institute for Northern Agriculture (RINA) initiative, which is a partnership between CDU, NT Government, NT Farmers, NT Seafood Council, NT Cattlemen's Association and funded by the Australian Government Department of Education. RINA will establish CDU as a leading research institution in tropical agriculture, aquaculture and biosecurity and provides opportunities for HDR research projects with strong collaborative links to industry and government.

 The Tropical Cropping group carries out multidisciplinary research with a strong foundation in crop physiology, agronomy, and soil science, aimed at enhancing the production, sustainability, and resilience of tropical cropping systems.

The Sustainable Pastoral Systems Group applies understanding of the plants, animals and environments that make up the pastoral systems of the Northern Territory and Asia to provide research for sustainable pastoral systems now and into the future.

 The Tropical Aquaculture Group studies biology, animal behaviour and animal welfare as applied to tropical aquaculture systems and provides support to both industry and Indigenous communities in developing and growing aquaculture sustainably.

 The Tropical Biosecurity group aims to build research capacity in tropical biosecurity to support a science-based approach to prepare, respond and manage pests, diseases and weeds and contribute to the protection of northern Australia‚Äôs unique environment and economy.



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Professor Chengyuan (Stephen) Xu

Professor Chengyuan (Stephen) Xu

Professor Chengyuan (Stephen) Xu has a passion for enhancing the sustainability and resilience of farming communities. He is a leader in fostering regional industry development and establishing emerging crops to diversify rural economies. 

Research Interests:

  • Crop Physiology
  • Carbon Farming
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Circular Economy


Meet Stephen
Dr Maxine Piggott

Professor Maxine Piggott

Professor Maxine Piggott applies genomic approaches to improve surveillance, detection and diagnostics. She has a strong focus on collaborative projects to enable students to gain experience in industry and government and develop networks.

Research interests:

  • Population structure and gene flow of disease vectors
  • Environmental DNA for surveillance and early detection
  • Endemic species as potential disease hosts and vectors
  • Diagnostics and taxonomy
Meet Maxine

Professor Sunil Kadri

Professor Sunil Kadri works in both research and commercial projects supporting the sustainable growth of aquaculture, with a focus on fish behaviour and fish welfare; as well as the development and deployment of technologies to monitor stock and enable on farm data collection for both production and research purposes. His projects each address both fundamental and applied research questions and include both laboratory and fieldwork.

Research Interests:

  • Supporting Indigenous aquaculture developments
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Animal Welfare
  • Individual differences within populations
  • Life histories
  • On farm technologies
Meet Sunil
Associate Professor Beth Penrose

Associate Professor Beth Penrose

Associate Professor Beth Penrose is passionate about the sustainability and profitability of pasture and livestock systems in Australia and Asia. She uses interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to deliver impact for producers and the environment with a large number of collaborators across Australia and internationally.

Research Interests:

  • pasture nutrition and animal health
  • maintaining pasture in a changing climate
  • fodder production and diversification of pastoral land
  • links between soil, plant and animal nutrition and human health
  • pasture agronomy and physiology
Meet Beth

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