A/Prof Colin Wellings awarded with the 2011 "Seed of light"

28 February 2011

One of the world's leading authorities on cereal stripe rust has been recognised for his outstanding commitment and contribution to the Australian grains industry.

Professor Colin Wellings is the recipient of the 2011 Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Southern Region Seed of Light Award for his efforts and achievements in communicating the outcomes of research.


The award was presented to Prof Wellings this week at the GRDC Adviser Update at Young, NSW, where he was addressing researchers, scientists, advisers, agronomists and growers on the latest developments in cereal diseases. In presenting the award, GRDC Southern Regional Panel member Andrew Rice said Prof Wellings typified all that the Seed of Light Award represented.

"His accessibility to growers and advisors and his willingness to share his knowledge of the stripe rust situation in real time - as rust outbreaks occurred, not just in research papers or as Update presentations - has made him invaluable in managing a disease that has come to be a major challenge in recent years," Mr Rice said. "Whether it's on-farm delivering an address at a field day or a discussion over the phone, Colin Wellings has gone out on a limb to improve everyone's knowledge of stripe rust and its management."

In his capacity as an adviser and a grain grower, Mr Rice himself has relied on Prof Wellings' advice over the years.


Employed by NSW Industry and Investment (where he started as a graduate trainee in 1971), Prof Wellings has been on secondment to the University of Sydney Cereal Rust Laboratory at the Plant Breeding Institute since 1980. During this period he has assumed research and advisory roles with the Australian Cereal Rust Control Program, working in partnership with the GRDC. Over the past 30 years, Prof Wellings has been responsible for Australia-wide monitoring of the stripe rust pathogen (strain identification), genetic studies of resistance in wheat to this pathogen, and assisting directly with disease control by providing breeding support to all wheat breeding groups in Australia.


He has been actively engaged in extension activities targeting Australian grain growers and district advisers, and has been directly involved in supervising postgraduate students (both MSc and PhD) and in teaching plant pathology to third and fourth year undergraduate students on the main campus of the University of Sydney. Mr Rice said Prof Wellings' research focus on the control of stripe rust in wheat through genetic resistance had positioned him as a world leader in this field. "In fact, Prof Wellings' expertise has been sought and utilised around the globe," Mr Rice said.


Considerable international travel has included a six-month period of study leave in Holland in 1990 and a four-week period of study leave in Syria at the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in the mid 1990s.

He also coordinated an international program funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) in which wheat germplasm he produced was deployed in many of the world's wheat growing regions to monitor the wheat stripe rust pathogen. Prof Wellings' Seed of Light award has been well received by grains industry personnel throughout Australia and overseas.


Among those first to congratulate Prof Wellings was colleague of 23 years, Prof Robert Park, who is based at the Plant Breeding Institute and is GRDC Chair of Cereal Rust Research. Currently undertaking a Fulbright Senior Scholarship researching the genetic basis of resistance to stem rust in cereals at the United States Department of Agriculture's Cereal Disease Laboratory, Prof Park said Prof Wellings was a very deserving award recipient. "I have known Colin professionally since 1985. He is a very personable individual who has always exercised great professionalism in all aspects of his work," Prof Park said from the USA. "He has a particularly special ability to communicate either in one-on-one situations or in presentations to large audiences, and can easily relate to people from diverse backgrounds. "The quality of Colin's work can only be described as top class. He is an extremely thorough person with great attention to detail and is able to take complex tasks on and see them through to completion. He always treats people with tremendous respect. "Colin is a rare individual who combines many admirable traits, both professionally and personally. I feel truly privileged to have worked with Colin."

Mr Rice said that sentiment was shared by all within the grains industry who have benefited from Prof Wellings' research and tireless contribution.

Contact: A/Prof Colin Wellings

Phone: 02 9351 8826

Email: 140e232c56302e243e3d103e21016b32302a5b2c0f6d2d0622690703