Prof Brajesh K Singh

President and Scientific Chair

Professor Brajesh Singh is an internationally recognised expert in environmental microbiology, farm productivity and ecosystem functions.

His research interests encompass functional ecology, climate change and environmental biotechnology with particular focus on the role of microbes in ecosystem function and harnessing this knowledge for farm productivity and environmental sustainability.

He is currently Distinguished Professor at Western Sydney University.


Dr Eleonora Egidi


Dr Eleonora Egidi is a soil microbial ecologist and ARC DECRA Fellow. Her research focuses on investigating microbial biogeography, plant-soil-microbe interactions, and the mechanism underpinning microbial responses to environmental stressors.

She has led a number of initiatives to promote microbial ecology studies in Australia and China, organised and chaired several microbial ecology symposia at society conferences, and engaged with industry partners.

Eleonora is also committed to supporting and mentoring women in science and has actively participated in a number of Equity and Diversity programs during her appointments at both Western Sydney University and La Trobe University.


Dr Diana Wall

Director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability

Dr. Diana Wall is a University Distinguished Professor, Director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is currently Science Chair, Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative.

Diana’s more than 25 years of research in the Antarctic continues to clarify the critical links between climate change and soil biodiversity. Diana served as President of the Ecological Society of America, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the Society of Nematologists.

Diana received the 2017 Eminent Ecologist Award from the Ecological Society of America, the 2016 Honorary Member award from the British Ecological Society, the 2015 Ulysses Medal from University College Dublin, the 2012 SCAR President’s Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research and the 2013 Soil Science Society of America Presidential Award.


Prof Angela Sessitsch

Austrian Institute of Technology

Angela Sessitsch is an internationally recognised expert on beneficial plant-microbe interactions and established this research area at AIT. Her know-how encompasses the understanding the ecology and functioning of microbial endophytes, molecular approaches to explore their potential and exploring plant beneficial microorganisms for agricultural applications.

Angela has coordinated various national and international projects, organised international conferences, has been invited to give keynote and invited lectures at international symposia and was a member of the EFSA Panel of Genetically Modified Organisms.


Karel Callens

Senior Advisor to Chief Economist, FAO

Karel Callens is Senior Advisor to the Chief Economist of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, based in Rome, Italy. He leads the joint EU-FAO FIRST Policy Assistance Facility and the FAO’s work on the role of microbiome science and innovation in support of sustainable agri-food systems transformation. Previously, he was Deputy Director in charge of the organization’s Strategic Programme on Food Security and Nutrition. He holds an M.Sc. in Bio-engineering from the State University of Gent in Belgium and a MBA from the Open University Business School in the UK.


Dr Kellye Eversole

Executive Director of the International Phytobiome Alliance

Dr Kellye Eversole is the Executive Director of the International Phytobiome Alliance and has been involved with a series of committees, panels, and consultancies in support of science and agriculture. In 2013 Kellye was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In 1999, she received an Outstanding Performance Award by the National Corn Growers Association for her efforts to establish the US Plant Genome Initiative. She has previously served as a member of the US Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade by the US Secretary of Agriculture and US Trade Representative.


Dr Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo

INRAS-CSIC Senior researcher

Dr Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo is an ecosystem ecologist with a strong multidisciplinary background in soil microbial ecology, global environmental change, paleoclimate, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. He is the main coordinator of two global collaborative networks, CLIMIFUN and MUSGONET, which are aimed to better understand the soil microbiome of terrestrial ecosystems across space and time. Manuel leads the Biodiversity and Ecosystem functioning laboratory at the IRNAS-CSIC (Spain).


Dr Pankaj Trivedi

Colorado State University

My research goal is to elucidate and exploit the multitrophic interactions among and between microbiome and the plant environment that influence the health and productivity of managed and natural systems, especially in response to environmental change.

Areas of my research interest are broad and include (1) microbial ecology; (2) “omics” technologies; (3) plant-microbe-insect interactions; (4) predictive computational modeling; and (5) microbiome engineering.

Research projects in my lab will address the assembly, fitness and roles of plant, insect, and soil-associated microbiomes; how these are influenced by various biotic and abiotic factors; and what are their consequences on plant productivity, agro- ecosystems sustainability, and local and global level ecological processes.

By providing systems-level understanding of plant microbiomes the research will develop new computational tools and host/microbiome models that enable plant breeders and plant ecologists to predict beneficial interactions to achieve improved yields and plant resilience in changing environments.