Home » Case Studies » PhD Intern Assists in Crop-Saving Research for Farmers


Fruit flies are a major agricultural pest, inflicting almost $300 million a year in lost produce across Australia. To investigate one of the most threatening species, the Queensland fruit fly, the Centre for AgriBioscience (Agriculture Victoria) utilised PhD expertise.

In partnership with APR.Intern, Agriculture Victoria placed University of Melbourne PhD student, Jessi Henneken, into a tailored internship within its research team. Tasked with addressing pivotal questions in Queensland fly chemical biology and behaviour, Jessi’s project led to significant outputs.

“We thoroughly enjoyed having Jessi as a member of the group. She integrated well, assisted others with research, and conducted her own independent project with interesting results we hope to publish. All in all, a great experience,” 


Dr Paul Cunningham, Agriculture Victoria Research Leader

For Jessi, the hands-on internship was a powerful opportunity to turn theory into practice, by applying her technical skills.

“My time at Agriculture Victoria helped me understand commercial imperatives – deadlines, stakeholders and managing expectations. I also learnt how multidisciplinary teams work and the relevance of my skills in industry,”


Jessi Henneken, PhD Intern at Agriculture Victoria

Playing a pivotal role in the internship’s success was Jessi’s Academic Mentor, University of Melbourne Senior Lecturer, Dr Therésa Jones, who provided guidance towards the project’s research goals.

In addition to APR.Intern’s benefits for industry and student, Therésa cites university benefits as improved student work-readiness and industry relationship building.

The success of this internship led to Jessi’s employment as a postdoctoral researcher within Paul’s team.