Antarctica to Griffith: Dr Wendy Quayle talks women in ag, research and farming innovation

When Dr Wendy Quayle came to Australia in 2001, she was only supposed to be here on a three year contract. 

She was actually working in the British Survey in Antarctica when the opportunity first arose. 

“Originally I’m from a farm in the UK so I’ve got that background in in agriculture. I was working with the Australian antarctic division and was coming back to Australia quite a lot,” she said.

These days, Dr Quayle is a Senior Research fellow at Deakin University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Futures in Griffith. 

“I got offered a three year contract here looking at the rice industry and I came out here in 2001 looking at pesticides. It just went from there really.”

Her work in Australia has covered a number of different industries. She’s been involved in studies looking at winery waste water management, weed management in irrigation channels and the use of chicken manure for soil fertiliser, to name a few.​

Dr Quayle says the diverse range of industry in Griffith has provided a slew of different opportunities. 

“I’ve moved with how the industries have gone. My background means I can take my skills and put them to use in different industries,” she said. 

“We’ve really been able to look at soil issues and provide potential solutions for how to manage those.”

The practical nature of her work is also something she loves. 

“Farmers are amazing. I get a lot of inspiration from talking to the farmers here. They’re very adaptable, very dynamic,” she said. 

“Being here means you’re right in the community and you’re able to speak with people both formally and informally. It means you can really target your research to what’s relevant.”


​In the years since first arriving in the area, she has witnessed the booms of several different industries. Dr Quayle says she’s also seen a big increase in the number of women involved in the industry. 

“I’m starting to see and come into contact with more and more young women in the industry. There are a number of young women who are agronomists,” she said.

“They really respected by the farmers too. They put a lot of effort in and they really know their stuff."

She’d also noticed a shift within the industry itself. 

“You don’t have to study agriculture and go on to be a farmer. There are so many different disciplines,” she said.

“You could work as an agronomist, in research, marketing, communications. It’s so multi-disciplined.”