2013 Alumni Awards
The Faculty Alumni Awards for 2013 were presented by the Dean, Professor Mark Adams at the Annual Awards Cocktail Reception held on Wednesday 31 July in MacLaurin Hall.
On behalf of the Faculty and the Agriculture Alumni Association we congratulate the following recipients.
The 4 recipients were:
Alumni Award for International Achievement
(BSc Agr ’60 MSc Agr ’63 PhD ’69)
Professor Robert McIntosh receives the Faculty Alumni Award for Professional Achievement for his remarkable contributions to the control of cereal rust diseases and global food security during a 40-year research career.
Robert’s long association with the Faculty spanned from the late 1950s through to his retirement in 2000. After finishing his Bachelor and Master of Science in Agriculture, he went on to complete his PhD on flag smut resistance in wheat. He was appointed as a research fellow in the Faculty in 1963, and later promoted to senior research fellow and then Director of Rust Research. From 1993 until 2000, he held his own Personal Chair in Cereal Genetics and Cytogenetics.
Over that time, he gained an international reputation for his work on the genetics and cytogenetics of rust resistance. His many career achievements include a series of research papers on chromosome location and genetic linkage in wheat, which directly resulted in the naming of genes for resistance to leaf rust, stem rust and stripe rust; his determination of the genetic basis of stem rust resistance in the wheat species Triticum timopheevii; and his development of wheat derivatives that enabled rust resistance genes to be commercially exploited. Starting in 1968, he also managed and continues to manage the international catalogue of genetic names for wheat. His research has been published in approximately 150 journal articles, book chapters and conference proceedings.
Robert has also spearheaded major surveys of cereal rust as part of the Australian National Cereal Rust Control Program, and has taken part in wheat rust control collaborations in India, Pakistan and China. Following his retirement from the University in 2000, he has given guest lectures across the world while serving as an editor of journals such as Plant Breeding and Euphytica. Throughout his career, he has also been an enthusiastic mentor and postgraduate supervisor to young agriculture researchers.
In 2003, Robert was awarded a Centenary Medal by the Australian Government and in 2009 he was created an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of his lifelong contributions to agriculture. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science, the Australian Academy of Science, the American Phtopathology Society, and the Australasian Plant Pathology Society.
Alumni Awards for Professional Achievement
(BSc Agr (Hons) ’81 PhD ’85)
Dr Matthew Morell receives the Faculty Alumni Award for Professional Achievement for his ground-breaking research on cereal grains aimed at increasing their nutritional benefits and ultimately improving human health.
Matthew is regarded as one of the nation’s most innovative plant scientists thanks to his achievements in translating basic science discoveries in cereal grain research into practical outcomes. His interests range from characterising the genes that control starch composition in plants, to their impact on the processing of wheat and barley by the food industry, to the development of grain products with more healthful nutritional profiles.
After completing his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Honours) and PhD at the Faculty, Matthew spent four years in the United States undertaking postdoctoral research before returning to Australia to take up a fellowship at Australian National University’s Research School of Biological Sciences.
In 1997, Matthew joined CSIRO Plant Industry where he continues to work today, leading its research on cereal quality improvement. After forming the Food Futures Flagship, he took on the role of Theme Leader for the Food Futures Flagship Future Grain research, with the responsibility for pioneering new grains.
His team led the development of BARLEYMaxTM, a wholegrain high in dietary fibre and with a lower glycemic index that is now available to consumers nationwide. That work sparked a joint venture project in cooperation with Limagrain which aims to launch new, more healthy varieties of wheat. In addition, Matthew played a key role in launching a major collaboration between CSIRO Plant Industry and the multinational Bayer to develop high-yield wheat. He also helped to establish the Centre for Grain Food Innovation in Perth, a joint venture with Curtin University and the Western Australian government.
Recently, his research has focused on how cereal grains can play a role in preventing diet-related diseases such as bowel cancer and diabetes. His publication record spans over 100 journal artices.
Matthew’s career accolades include four CSIRO medals for research achievement and business excellence. He is also a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and the American Association of Cereal Chemists, where he was appointed a Director in 2013.
Alumni Award for Community Achievement
(BSc Agr (Hons) ’87 PhD ’91)
Professor Tony Peacock receives the Faculty Alumni Award for Community Achievement for his tireless efforts to promote, communicate and apply research for the benefit of our society and environment, especially in the area of invasive animal control.
Tony graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Honours) in 1987 before moving across to the University’s Faculty of Veterinary Science to undertake his PhD. Following a stint as a research fellow at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, Tony returned home to take on the job of research manager at the Pig Research and Development Corporation, where he was promoted to managing director. During his time there, the organisation’s research findings were widely adopted by Australian pig producers.
In 2001, he took up the reins of the Pest Animal Control Cooperative Reserch Centre as CEO, steering its transformation into the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (CRC). Under his stewardship, the Invasive Animals CRC won strong reputation for delivering both innovative research and practical solutions. Its work on the control of foxes, cane toads, carp and myna birds all had a major influence on pest control initiatives in the community. Tony also wrote Australia’s first ever Threat Abatement Plan to arrest the spread of cane toads.
A highly skilled science communicator, Tony played a pivotal role in alerting the community to the environmental impact of feral animals on radio, online and at public seminars. His advocacy has also had a significant impact on policy, contributing to expanded efforts to control feral animals such as camels and rabbits, as well as a ban on importing hybrid pets. He also introduced new professional development opportunities for emerging researchers in the area of invasive animals.
In 2010, Tony was awarded a prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Science Prize for Promoting the Understanding of Science in recognition of his role in drawing attention to the impact of invasive animals. He is currently the CEO of the Cooperative Research Centres Association, which represents and promotes the Australia-wide network of CRCs. In that position, he has been a staunch advocate for governments to maintain their commitment to funding research.
Young Alumni Award for Achievement
(BSc Agr (Hons) ’04 PhD ’09)
Dr Nicola Cottee is the recipient of the Faculty Young Alumni Award for Achievement for her pioneering research into heat-tolerant cotton and her efforts to mentor a new generation of agriculture researchers.
Nicola completed her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Honours) at the Faculty in 2004, specialising in plant nutrition and nutrient biofortification. She won the Sibella Macarthur Onslow Memorial Prize for proficiency in agronomy as well as two prizes for thesis oral presentations, demonstrating her aptitude for clearly communicating scientific research findings. She also found the time to serve as a student mentor and a laboratory demonstrator.
In 2005, Nicola commenced her PhD on the area that would become her research passion: the thermotolerance of cotton, a pressing concern for growers in the context of climate change. As part of her doctoral studies, she collaborated with researchers at CSIRO and Texas A&M University to integrate insights from the in-field stress physiology of cotton plants, molecular biology and plant breeding methodologies in order to understand the genetic basis of heat tolerance for cotton.
Her work with Dr J Tom Cothren from Texas A&M University also helped to compare stress tolerance for cotton cultivars grown in Australia and the USA. In 2006, she was the recipient of the Alan Gibson Award for Oral Presentation at the Faculty Postgraduate Symposium.
Nicola now works as a postdoctoral fellow at CSIRO Plant Industry in Narrabri, where she continues her cutting-edge research into cotton. She is currently assessing cotton cultivars across warm and hot growing conditions in both NSW and Queensland for physiological performance, yield and fibre quality. She has disseminated her findings among the scientific community and the cotton industry in a range of forums from articles in academic journals and the rural press to the Australian and World Cotton Conferences.
Meanwhile, she continues to be a mentor for younger researchers by donating her time to initiatives such as the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education. In 2010, Nicola was honoured with the Cotton CRC Chief Scientist Award.