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Sonja Needs

Tutor (Plant Phys & Viticulture)
Agriculture And Food
Climate Change
Scent detection
pest and disease
Sonja Needs's Profile Picture

Sonja Needs

Veterinary And Agricultural Sciences
Primary Interest
Frost and post frost management in grapevines
Sonja Needs's Profile Picture

Sonja Needs


Sonja is primarily a course and subject coordinator, lecturer and tutor in Wine, Climate Change Adaptation and Animal Science.
She has expertise in sensory science and human and canine olfactory systems.

Sonja is particularly interested in how the human olfactory is influenced not only by mechanical physiology but also, and most interestingly, by psychology. Colours, sounds and textures all influence the way we taste and smell and our abilities to recall different sensory pictures.

Sonja is currently the primary researcher for The University of Melbourne Detection Dog Projects. Using volunteer dog and handler teams as well as her own detection dogs to learn more about the capabilities of dogs as a detection tool. She is particularly interested in sensitivity and reliability and developing training methods which allow faster and more economical training of dogs in the detection field. To date she has completed several small projects with the aid of Animal Science research students. Completed projects include; using dogs for Eutypa in grapevines, Brettanomyces in wineries, invasive weeds and if detection dogs able to distinguish single component target odours when trained on odour mixtures.Sonja has also been involved in research assessing 'climate change related' future frost risk for important cultivars across Australia's growing regions incorporating the recovery responses of a range of wine grape cultivars to severe frost events. Increasing the strategic ability to react to impending frost events by improving our management of frost affected grapevines. Detection and quantification of several bacterial species which are active ice nucleators, by expressing an ice nucleation (IN) protein, catalysing freezing on plants at up to -1oC.

Other areas of research include Recovery responses of grapevine after a bushfire event.

Scholarly Works

Displaying the 8 most recent scholarly works by Sonja Needs.


Displaying the most recent news article by Sonja Needs.



Tutor (Plant Phys & Viticulture)

Agriculture And Food


Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology

Founding Member

Australian Conservation Dog Network

Canine Search Specialist

Southern Cross Search Dog Association


Master of Agriculture (Research)

University of Melbourne

Certificate in Dog Behaviour: Problems and Solutions

Arizona State University

Certificate in Dog Perception and Cognition

Arizona State University

Certificate in Dog Cognition and Emotion

Duke University

Graduate Diploma in Primary Education

Charles Darwin University

Forensic Science

Murdoch University

Bachelor of Applied Science

La Trobe University