Guarding the keys to the future of dairy research

Sergio Garcia DRF

The University of Sydney Dairy Research Foundation at Camden, south west of Sydney, is a vital guardian of the keys to the future of dairy science, according to director Professor Yani Garcia.

The foundation, he says, is a modest building with the future of dairy research inside in the form of a committed group of hard-working PhD candidates and teachers.

The DRF is a pivotal part of the university’s Dairy Science Group, a breeding place which has developed more than 100 PhDs and rolled out more than 500 heavyweight scientific papers since its establishment in 1959.

“The foundation’s purpose is to help the university develop more resources to re-invest in future research,” said Garcia.

“We are also the university’s arm for engaging with dairy farmers and the broad industry, by comparison with other foundations that focus primarily on fundraising activities.

“As part of the University of Sydney Dairy Science Group, we bring together academics and students for dairy related research and teaching.

“We make a strong science-based contribution to industry in what is a classic win-win scenario.”

Garcia said some of the income that supports the foundation each year comes from its annual dairy farmer-focused DRF Symposium which is expected to attract around 200 delegates to Port Macquarie in late July this year.

Other income sources include donations, memberships and providing laboratory services. Most of his research has been supported by Dairy Australia through the industry-driven program FutureDairy.

Garcia also leads the Sydney Dairy Science group, which carries out the research and teaching activities at Sydney University.

Garcia was born into a crop and beef farming family in Argentina. He graduated from university with an agronomy degree, before completing a Masters’ degree in animal science and finally a PhD on pasture-based dairy systems in New Zealand.

He joined the University of Sydney in 2003 to work with past director Prof. Bill Ferguson with whom he co-developed FutureDairy, a national program still ongoing. Garcia was appointed director of the DRF after Bill Ferguson retired in 2008.

“I’m driven by change and new technologies, by finding solutions through innovation and I have a passion for seeing young scientists developing and gaining traction in this vitally important industry.”