Leadership program to strengthen agricultural research for development

28 May 2021
Dr Delia Catacutan Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator, World Agroforestry Centre

Eighteen agricultural researchers and scientists from the Philippines have been selected to take part in the prestigious John Dillon Fellowship.

Supported by ACIAR, the long-running fellowship enhances the leadership and management skills of scientists to further their careers in agricultural research for development.

For the first time and in response to the pandemic, the 2021 delivery of the fellowship will be in individual country cohorts, with a strong focus on cross-organisational collaboration and strengthening ties with Australian partners.

ACIAR’s CEO Professor Andrew Campbell said it was important that Australia’s support for building scientific capacity in partner countries like the Philippines continued despite COVID-19.  

‘The John Dillon Fellowship is the flagship program of ACIAR for enhancing leadership and management skills of mid-career professionals who are poised to advance agricultural research and development in our partner countries.

‘ACIAR responded to the 2020 global pandemic swiftly and is proud to be introducing a newly designed fellowship in 2021 that builds upon the program’s past success.’

Since its inception, the Fellowship has supported more than 150 researchers further their career in agricultural research for development, with the program’s alumni forming a strong network of researchers across the Indo-Pacific region.

For the 2021 cohort, the fellowship has been redesigned to deliver an innovative learning experience that is tailored to the needs of the individual fellows and their organisations, and create an opportunity for immediate application of their learnings to respond to leadership challenges particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and similar challenges in the future.

The program has been jointly developed by ACIAR and the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCARRDD). The 18 awardees were from DOST-PCAARRD, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Visayas State University and University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao.

Dr Reynaldo Ebora, Executive Director of DOST-PCAARRD says the new program will nurture the science leaders of tomorrow.

‘The new John Dillon Fellowship will be a very good program to mentor and train champions of good science by enhancing their leadership and management skills, paving the way to more successfully implemented innovative projects and programs in the future.”

The program is being launched as Australia marks its 75th year of diplomatic relations with the Philippines. ACIAR fellowships and capacity building programs have greatly contributed to the strong people-to-people links between the two countries.

UP Mindanao Chancellor Dr Larry Digal, a John Dillon Fellowship alumnus, said that the program contributed greatly to his career progression, enhancing his leadership and management skills and widening his professional network.

University of the Philippines Mindanao Chancellor Dr Larry Digal is a John Dillon Fellowship alumnus and a strong supporter of the Philippines initiative
University of the Philippines Mindanao Chancellor Dr Larry Digal is a John Dillon Fellowship alumnus and a strong supporter of the Philippines initiative.

The 2021 awardees will undergo 18 weeks of training in leadership and management skills, including leadership in the face of a crisis and pandemic, partnership brokering, leadership communication, gender equity, diversity, and social inclusion. Awardees will have the opportunity to collaborate with one another and design a research project for possible funding by the John Dillon Fellowship program. Resulting projects will act as a vehicle to enable real-life application of the lessons learnt throughout the Fellowship.

The John Dillon Fellowship 2021 will be delivered by the University of New England. 


Feature image: John Dillon Fellow, Dr Delia Catacutan (left) in the field with researchers and farmers in her current role as Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator for the World Agroforestry Centre.