Flinders welcomes Kazakh plant scholars

For the first time, Flinders University is hosting Visiting Fellows funded in-full by the Bolashak International scholarship program, run by the Government of Kazakhstan.

Two Bolashak applicants earned one-year Research Fellowships in Plant Biotechnology to be carried out in the Plant Molecular Biology Group laboratory at Flinders, supervised by Professor Kathleen Soole,  with Associate Professor Peter Anderson and Dr Yuri Sharukov.

Ms Sholpan Khalbayeva, 26, arrived at Flinders during Easter, while Dr Gulmira Khassanova, 47, will be arriving back in Adelaide soon to start her second research stint at Flinders.

These two Bolashak Fellows are specialists in dryland agriculture and will conduct research and training in crops such as wheat, chickpea, soybean and rice. Their research covers not only traditional methods of plant genotyping and molecular markers for practical breeding, but also tissue culture and genetic transformation.

Currently, Flinders can only host recipients from a single Bolashak program called ‘500 young scientists’, but after Flinders’ global ranking reaches the top 200 best Universities in the world, eligibility will open up to a much wider range of funded Bolashak programs to Kazakh undergraduate and post-graduate students.

“We encourage everyone to extend a warm welcome to our Bolashak Fellows and overseas visitors,” says Dr Sharukov. “International collaborations such as these provide essential opportunities to both deepen and diversify our knowledge and understanding of key research areas like Agricultural Biotechnology, at a time when global food security faces threats from both climate change and ongoing human conflicts.”

Bolashak, which means ‘future’ in Kazakhstan, represents an important partnership that can make strong and lasting connections, with hopes that the Bolashak program can be expanded to include disciplines from engineering to medicine, economics and the creative arts.

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