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Local talent to inspire Australia Day

ORGANISERS for the 2020 Australia Day event in Warracknabeal have secured a line up of talent to entertain the audience and are hoping for a big crowd. 

On January 26, the Warracknabeal Rotary Club are putting on a cooked breakfast before the official program of entertainment, featuring a guest speaker and presentation of the Australia Day awards.

Australia Day committee member Wendy Hewitt said Forensic Toxicologist Josh Gunn and Musician Sofia Laursen will perform for the day. 

“For several years we have been keen to invite ex-Warracknabeal resident, Josh Gunn to speak at our event, and now that Josh, a professor of Forensic Toxicology, has returned from the US, we are excited that he is happy to share his interesting journey with us,” Mrs Hewitt said. 

“Another local star is Sofia Laursen Habel, who will once again perform for the Australia Day crowd, showcasing her extraordinary musical talent.”

Josh Gunn

Mr Gunn left Warracknabeal in 2001 to began his studies at Deakin University in Geelong. 

He graduated in 2004 with a bachelor degree in forensic chemistry and an honors degree in Forensic Toxicology. 

In early 2005 he was offered a position at West Virginia University in their doctoral program to study Forensic Toxicology.

While completing his studies, he spent time in Washington DC working with the United States Secret Service and the Smithsonian Institution. 

In 2007 he interned as a forensic and clinical toxicologist at the largest postmortem toxicology laboratory in the country at American Institute of Toxicology. 

While at AIT he was developing analytical methods to detect and quantify drugs of abuse, poisons and toxins in postmortem fluids to more accurately determine cause of death. 

He spent the next five years working at AIT and was fortunate enough to gain a lot of experience both in the laboratory but also in the courtroom where he would testify as to the role of drugs/medicines/toxins in death cases ranging from accidental overdoses to homicides.

In 2013 he co-founded Ethos Research and Development with three business partners. Ethos RandD and its sister company (Ethos Labs) has grown to about 140 employees and now operates out of a 3000 square meter laboratory with state of the art testing capabilities.

He met his wife Ashley Gunn while studying at West Virginia University in 2006. Married in 2012 and have three children – Lila, 5, Harvey, 3, and Jack, 20 months. 

They will be relocating to Geelong in December of 2019 so Lila can begin her prep year in Australia.

Sofia Laursen                                   

Growing up on the family farm in Boolite, Sofia Laursen Habel is connected to her roots in the country community where she first started learning music.

Enriched by her Danish background, Sofia’s love of singing grew with the steady pace of rural life, with her passion as a singer residing in moving people through honest and authentic performance. 

Sofia has a keen interest in Scandinavian art song from the 19th and 20th centuries, while also enjoying a passion for opera. Sofia tends to choose repertoire based on the poetry and history of the piece, as she is also interested in social, political and military history.  

In November, Sofia was awarded the inaugural 2019 Alex Rathgeber Performing Artist Scholarship, of which she is excited and humbled by. Sofia is currently studying an honours year in classical voice with the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, which she will finish in June 2020.