Keynote Speakers

Horticulture Australia - Staff PortraitureRichard Bennett

Richard Bennett is the Technology Manager for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Australia-New Zealand, based in the Goulburn Valley, Victoria.  The activities of this role revolve around communicating the latest information on food safety, science and technology to PMA A-NZ members and the broader industry. The objective is to increase knowledge of business best practices and improve food safety culture and performance. In this way, consumer and supply chain trust and confidence in the integrity of fresh produce will be maximised. Themes include quality assurance, food safety, environmental management, product standards and specifications, product identification and traceability, business continuity, compliance issues and crisis management. In addition, the role includes the technical functions of the newly established Fresh Produce Safety Centre, an organisation dedicated to food safety outreach, education and research.

Richard has worked in numerous aspects of horticulture including in the nursery, seed and fruit processing industries, and as an industry development officer, trainer, agronomist and executive officer for a number of fruit grower associations. He has been heavily involved in food safety and related issues for over 15 years. He has developed and implemented Approved Supplier Programs and implemented SQF 2000 and Freshcare in fruit, vegetable, nut and wine grape businesses.

Richard has qualifications in orchard management, applied science, agribusiness and food safety.

PatriciaDr Patricia Coelho de Souza Leão

Graduate at Agronomy Engineering from Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco (1993), Master’s in Agronomy (Plant Breeding and Genetics) from Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho (1999) and Ph.D. in Genetics and Breeding, Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV) and University of California, Davis (2008). Researcher since 1994 of Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, Embrapa Semiarid, in Petrolina, PE, Brazil. Researcher projects is focused on grape breeding and crop science working on Germplasm evaluation, rootstocks, improvement of new varieties and canopy management. Author or co-author of 32 papers in periodicals, 21 book chapters and more than 100 abstracts in scientific congress and symposium.

John ClarkProfessor John R. Clark

John Clark is a university professor of horticulture at the University of Arkansas. His research responsibilities are his primary appointment, where he directs the University’s Division of Agriculture fruit breeding program and teaches in the areas of fruit production and plant breeding. He has worked in the Arkansas program for 34 years and has released 50 commercial varieties. Crops he works with include blackberries, table grapes, muscadine grapes, blueberries, and peaches/nectarines. His research activities are carried out in Arkansas, several US states, and various countries in the world. A native of Mississippi, he has BS and MS degrees from Mississippi State Univ. and a PhD from the Univ. of Arkansas. His work in table grapes has involved hybridising American species-derived grapes with Vitis vinifera, to combine increased flavor, winter hardiness, fruit cracking resistance, components of disease resistance, and broader adaptation from V. labrusca with the high-quality fruit attributes of V. vinifera. John Clark2The program in Arkansas has been ongoing for 50 years, the longest effort thus far with a focus on table grapes of this type. The program has released ten varieties, primarily intended for local marketing in the Midwest and eastern United States. In cooperation with International Fruit Genetics in California, the blending of the traits from the Arkansas developments with commercial table grapes in California has been ongoing for over 10 years. Products from this effort released by IFG are now in the US market, providing for unique table grapes not seen by American consumers prior. These unique flavours combined with excellent skin and texture characteristics plus diversified shapes have the potential to have substantial impact on American and world markets. He will share in his experiences in table grape breeding and possibilities for the future.

Greg JonesProfessor Gregory V. Jones

Gregory Jones is a professor and research climatologist in the Department of Environmental Studies at Southern Oregon University who specializes in the study of climate structure and suitability for viticulture, and how climate variability and change influence grapevine growth, wine production and quality. He holds a BA and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in Environmental Sciences with a concentration in the Atmospheric Sciences. His teaching and research interests include meteorology, climatology, hydrology, and agriculture; phenology of plant systems; biosphere and atmosphere interactions; climate change; and quantitative methods in spatial and temporal analysis. His dissertation was on the climatology of viticulture in Bordeaux, France with a focus on the spatial differences in grapevine phenology, grape composition and yield, and the resulting wine quality. He conducts applied research for the grape and wine industry in Oregon and has given hundreds of international, national, and regional presentations on climate and wine-related research. He is the author of numerous book chapters, including being a contributing author to the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report, and other reports and articles on wine economics, grapevine phenology, site assessment methods for viticulture, climatological assessments of viticultural potential, and climate change. He was named to Decanter Magazine’s 2009 Power List representing the top 50 most influential people in the world of wine, named the Oregon Wine Press’s 2009 Wine Person of the Year, and has been in the top 100 most influential people in the US wine industry in 2012 and 2013 (

Mark sosnowskiDr Mark Sosnowski

Dr Mark Sosnowski leads the Plant Health and Biosecurity science program at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). After graduating with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Adelaide (UA), he commenced working for SARDI in 1997 and went on to complete a PhD in 2002, studying the epidemiology and management of blackleg disease of canola at UA. Since 2003, Dr Sosnowski has been responsible for research on managing Eutypa dieback disease in grapevines at SARDI, also collaborating with colleagues in USA, Spain and Canada, and is currently responsible for research programs on management of Eutypa and Botryosphaeria dieback diseases in both Australia and New Zealand. He is currently the Australasian regional representative on the International Council for Grapevine Trunk Diseases and will convene the upcoming International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Diseases in Australia. In addition, Dr Sosnowski manages a biosecurity research program focussing on impact management of exotic grapevine pathogens in collaboration with Cornell University, USA. He is an Affiliate Senior Lecturer at UA and supervises numerous post-graduate students in a range of plant pathology projects. Dr Sosnowski has a decade of grapevine disease research experience in Australia and draws from his extensive international experience and collaboration to provide industry with the latest information for effective management of trunk diseases.

Mark ThomasDr Mark R. Thomas

Dr Mark Thomas is a Senior Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO and has been conducting grapevine research since 1990. He received the  P. L. Goldacre Medal of the Australian Society of Plant Physiologists in 1994 and has served on a number of international scientific grapevine committees and was Chairman of the International Grape Genome Program from 2002-2008. He developed the DNA typing method that is currently used throughout the world for identifying grapevine cultivars and his grapevine research has been published in a number of high quality research journals including Nature. His team was also responsible for developing rapid forward and reverse genetic approaches in grapevine using a novel grapevine form known as the microvine. He has a long standing interest in grapevine improvement and the identification of genes and alleles responsible for traits of economic importance to the grape industry.