Hazel Gaza

Soil matters: Hazel’s quest for healthier soils

A wise person once said, ‘Don’t treat your soil like dirt’ which perfectly summarises Hazel Gaza’s research and commitment to improve soil health.

Originally from the Philippines, Hazel studied at the University of the Philippines, first attaining her Bachelor of Science in Biology, then a Masters in Genetics, minor in Biochemistry. After moving to Perth with her family in 2009, Hazel attained her Doctorate in Plant Biology at the University of Western Australia. As a Research Officer at the School of Earth and Environment in UWA, Hazel applied her molecular knowledge to explore the biological, physical and chemical constraints to soil carbon storage. In 2018, Hazel moved to Far North Queensland to join the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as a soil ecologist based at South Johnstone.

Dr Hazel Gaza
Soil Ecologist
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Centre for Wet Tropics Agriculture
South Johnstone

Hazel is a key researcher in an Australian Centre of International Agriculture Research project developing an integrated management response to the spread of Fusarium wilt of banana in Southeast Asia. Hazel seeks to determine how farm management practices change the microbiome of bananas and the susceptibility of bananas to Fusarium wilt. Hazel is also developing a soil health kit for use by overseas project-partners to assess the physical, chemical and biological properties of soils under different farm management practices. This kit will also be made available  to local growers, agricultural consultants and researchers for monitoring in-field soil health.

‘I am excited about the potential uses and benefits of our results for soil and plant health’, said Hazel. ‘I am motivated by the fact that our work could assist in ensuring a healthier Australian banana industry for the future.’

Outside of work Hazel enjoys tending to her veggie patch, walking on a treadmill while watching Netflix. Since moving to FNQ, she has been exploring the different islands along the Great Barrier Reef with her family.

Hazel’s favourite banana recipe is ‘Turon’ which is deep fried spring roll wrapped sliced Saba (a cooking banana originating from the Philippines) coated with brown sugar