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Cara Wilson's success story

When Cara Wilson was young, her family had a hobby farm with a few cows, chickens and she also loved to ride horses.

Through studying at university in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Cara has been exposed more widely to the Agriculture industry.

Cara said. “That's how I ended up studying it and I love it.”

When Cara Wilson was young, her family had a hobby farm with a few cows, chickens and she also loved to ride horses.

Through studying at university in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Cara has been exposed more widely to the Agriculture industry.

Cara said. “That's how I ended up studying it and I love it.”

Cara studied a Bachelor of Equine Science and completed an Honours year in equine research. Following her honours project, Cara developed a keen interest in animal health and epidemiology.

“Agriculture is incredibly important, it’s what feeds the world. Working in the industry was going to give me a lot more skills and I felt like I could contribute more to the community,” she said.

Now, eighteen months into a PhD, Cara is researching how to reduce wastage caused by hydatid disease in the Australian beef industry.

The wastage of beef products throughout the food chain due to the disease, conservatively, could be as high as 5,000 tonnes across the beef industry. However, the exact magnitude of the loss is not clear.

“I believe animal welfare is super important in agriculture. We want our animals to be happy and healthy while they're with us, and as a result we get a high quality product,” Cara said.

“Eventually I want to work out the financial impact of the disease on the beef industry as a whole; looking at where infected animals are coming from, why they're becoming infected in those areas and ultimately, how much it's costing the beef industry.”

Cara can use this information to help determine the financial viability of producing a vaccine for cattle.

Cara loves being involved in agriculture and hopes that her research could one day benefit farmers and the industry.

“I like that I’m doing something for farmers who work so hard. If we can find out where infected cattle are coming from, hopefully we can reduce their losses. And not just for this disease, but I hope the skills that I'm learning through my PhD can be applied to other diseases and problems in the future.”

When Cara finishes her PhD, she is hoping to find a job involving research either within the industry or academia.

“I used to be quite narrow minded and saw academia as the only career prospect, but now I think industry could also be a really good option for me,” she said. “I love doing this research, in the future, I want the results of my job and research to get back to farmers.”

Cara’s advice for others thinking about a career in research:

- Motivation and having a good attitude is really important because there are challenges that come up along the way, so you have to be flexible and move with the changes.

- Take the opportunities that are given to you because you never know where they're going to lead. Don't close any doors, keep them all open.

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