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Sowing the seeds of change

A researcher in a white lab coat and blue gloves holds a potted plant in a greenhouse filled with similar pots on metal shelves.
UniSQ Master of Agricultural Science student Sandiri Manaswini hopes her research will help solve agricultural challenges in her home country of India.

Toowoomba in southern Queensland might seem a long way from Hyderabad in India, but for University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ) student Sandiri Manaswini, both feel like home.

Ms Manaswini moved to the Garden City from Hyderabad in 2022 with one clear goal in mind: to study her Master of Agricultural Science at UniSQ and develop innovative, eco-friendly solutions to take back to India’s agricultural industry.

“India has a large population, which poses significant challenges for food production,” Ms Manaswini said.

“To meet the growing demand, many farmers rely heavily on chemicals and fertilisers, which has led to food adulteration and, in some cases, people becoming sick.

“My goal is to find biological solutions for farming; to promote agriculture that relies on beneficial microorganisms instead of harmful chemicals.”

Ms Manaswini’s research project investigates the capacity for Serendipita mycorrhizal fungi to alleviate drought stress in wheat – the results of which could help solve real-world farming challenges in Australia and around the world.

She is conducting her research project under the supervision of Acting Head of School and Dean (Agriculture and Environmental Science) Associate Professor John Dearnaley.

“UniSQ has a strong reputation for agriculture studies and a focus on practical, real-world applications, which really aligns with my goal of finding innovative agricultural solutions that combine traditional methods with modern science,” Ms Manaswini said.

“UniSQ and Associate Professor Dearnaley have provided me with a significant opportunity to showcase my skills and gain practical experience and knowledge, and I am deeply grateful for such valuable opportunities."

While the move from India to Toowoomba was a significant transition for Ms Manaswini, she said the support offered at UniSQ had made it much easier.

“One of the highlights of my experience at UniSQ has been the support and interaction with academic staff, who have always been remarkably friendly and kind every time I have had a question,” she said.

“They offer guidance and support whenever I feel confused or stressed, and it really has made UniSQ start to feel like home.”

Find out about studying a Master of Agricultural Science at UniSQ.