Denise Pleming discusses her role as a technical officer

FOCUS FROM THE LAB: NSW Department of Primary Industries technical officer, Denise Pleming carries out some dough rheology work. Picture: Nikki Reynolds
FOCUS FROM THE LAB: NSW Department of Primary Industries technical officer, Denise Pleming carries out some dough rheology work. Picture: Nikki Reynolds

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EARLY starts and an eye for detail are part of the fabric which allows Denise Pleming to successfully fulfill her role as a technical officer with NSW DPI.

She manages the day to day operations of the cereal laboratory in Wagga and has been in the industry for some 30 years after completing a science degree at Charles Sturt University in 1982. 

When The Rural visited this week she was carrying out some dough rheology work as part of a collaborative research project investigating the incorporation of lupin flour into bakery products. 

4.30am: Getting an early start to the day is something that Ms Pleming prides herself on. Her day starts with breakfast and a cryptic crossword or Sudoku. “Then I start the morning chores of feeding and watering the chooks and ducks and gathering some seeding grass for the corella and walking and feeding the dogs Thursday and Transit,” she said. 

7am: “The working day varies depending on what we are currently engaged on,” she said. Sometimes it is straight to the bake room to make sure the experiments can be completed by 3pm or 4pm. On other days Mrs Pleming begins by checking emails and messages and then looking in on technical staff to check the progress. 

8.30am: It’s into the lab to work on current projects. “Our section works on all aspects of grain quality from physical characteristics like grain size and protein, through to the end product assessment for yellow alkaline noodles and three different bread baking processes,” she said. 

12pm: Then there is a quick break for lunch and an opportunity to talk about project proposals, work progress and direction and any meetings with cereal chemist Dr Marsha Majzoobi. 

12.30pm: Ms Pleming heads back to work to troubleshoot any equipment breakdowns or calibration issues. It is also a chance to spend time in the office and collect data and interpret results. “This may be for research publications, proficiency reports, or as supporting material for new wheat lines seeking classification and release to growers,” she said. 

3.30pm: The work day concludes after checking with technical staff that the next day’s work is planned. 

4.30pm: “I get some jobs around the garden, paddock or horse and then take the dogs for a run down at the river,” she said. 

6.30pm: Ms Pleming then prepares dinner with her husband Eugene Jocic and this meal often features some of their homegrown veggies. Then time for TV, jobs on the computer or reading. 

8.30pm: Lights out. 

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