Laura Boykin | Computational Food Security | Australia


The cassava whitefly is responsible for vectoring the plant viruses that have caused two on-going and devastating pandemics, Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). Estimates for resulting production losses in nine East and Central African countries have been put as high as 47% and the areas affected are continuing to expand, resulting in hunger, recurrent famines and annual losses of more than US$1.25 billion. Laura Boykin, a computational biologist in Australia, works to empower smallholder farmers and scientists in sub-Saharan Africa to increase the cassava crop yield by protecting them from the whitefly marauders. Laura uses genomics and high performance computing to study the speciation of whiteflies to ensure the farmers protect themselves form the correct whitefly species, ultimately increasing food security in the region.