Our alumni have made their marks around the world. Today they are playing major roles in agriculture, land and water management, rural economy, policy and development, food and health.
Senior Research Scientist Department of Primary Industries, Victoria
Dr Rod Bird OAM completed his BSc (Agric) (Hons) at UWA (1967). In 1972 he obtained his PhD and acted as a Senior Demonstrator in the Department of Animal Science.
He joined the Department of Agriculture in Victoria in 1973. First he worked on the impact of stocking rates of steers on seasonal pasture growth and utilisation, pasture intake, grazing times, steer liveweight changes and body composition, but in 1982 he began agroforestry research with pine and sheep. The project ran for 25 years and showed how various designs affected animal and forestry outputs.
Later he engaged in farm forestry projects on over a hundred farms in south western Victoria. Dr Bird OAM has authored two books, published 170 research papers and 90 extension papers. He retired in October 2007.
"In my first year at UWA a lecturer in a Physics ‘prac’ period reminded us that in Agriculture one must also plot the data," he says.
"The background in science subjects in Agricultural Science, and the steely disciplines learned from postgraduate research, enabled me to transfer easily from animal nutrition into forestry research. A background of Agricultural Science also gives one a broad perspective when moving into a new fi eld of research or industry."
Dr Bird was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June 2009 'for service to the environment through farm forestry and revegetation programs'.
Principal Research Officer, DAFWA
Dr Bill Bowden began his career as a cadet with the Western Australian Department of Agriculture in 1961 and has worked for the Department ever since. He graduated with a BSc. (Agric.) from UWA, and returned in 1968, graduating with a PhD in soil chemistry in 1973. In 1980, Dr Bowden received a Reserve Bank Fellowship and worked on fertiliser dissolution, placement and effectiveness while on sabbatical at the New England University in Armidale. He was a Sub-program Leader in the CRC for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) from 1992 to 1997.
In 2006, Dr Bowden was awarded the Donald Medal by Australian Society of Agronomy for his impact on the science and practice of agriculture in Australia. He recently received the 2009 Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Western Region Seed of Light award for his contribution to the development of agriculture, and the professional development of three generations of agricultural scientists.
Dr Bowden has over 40 year’s experience with plant and soil, research, development and extension in WADA.
He says, "I have deliberately placed myself in the gap between research and extension (what I call 'development'). If research results are to be used widely by the industry, they must be put in a framework which extends them beyond the site, season and management specificities".
Research Economist, CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Black Mountain ACT
Dr David Cook completed a BEc(Hons.) degree at Murdoch University in 1995, and between 1996 and 2004 worked as a Regional Economist for the Department of Agriculture Western Australia in Bunbury. Here he researched a wide range of issues related to invasive species and biosecurity, from incursion response and impact assessment to trade modelling and quarantine.
During this period Dr Cook received an ARC-SPIRT grant to complete a PhD (Agriculture) with UWA’s School of Agricultural and Resource Economics (1999-2001). Two of these memorable years were spent at the Nedlands campus where he was supervised by Prof Rob Fraser and Prof Michael Burton. His dissertation looked at social welfare effects resulting from sanitary and phytosanitary measures imposed on goods traded interstate to prevent invasive species from entering WA.
Dr Cook returned to the Department of Agriculture for a period before taking up a post-doctoral position at Imperial College London’s Wye Campus (2003-2004) profiling UK Biosecurity risks. He then returned to Australia to take up a Research Economist position with CSIRO Entomology, and a Visiting Fellowship with the Fenner School of Environment and Society at The Australian National University. Dr Cook thoroughly enjoyed the time he spent at UWA.
Mr Bill Crabtree completed a BScAg degree in 1984 and MSc (Agric) in 2002, both from UWA. He worked with the Department of Agriculture for 12 years, then lived in Canada on a job exchange in 1996, before becoming a Scientific Officer for WANTFA for five years and being a farm consultant for six years. He recently became a farmer.
Mr Crabtree became known as ‘No-Till Bill’ through his multi-award winning research and extension conducted throughout his career (WA Landcarer of the year in 1995 and GRDC’s 2006 Seed of Light award). He has used his communication skills to lead nine farmer study tours to different parts of the world, including; North and South America, China, Africa and Europe. Mr Crabtree received an honorary Life Membership with WANTFA in 2003. Mr Crabtree has just released a book/CD on his work called Search for Sustainability with No-Till Bill in Dryland Agriculture.
Lecturer, School of Sustainability, Murdoch University, WA
Mr John Davis completed an Agricultural Science degree in 1977. Over the next eight years, he helped establish a rural development program in Bangladesh.
In 1989, a casual meeting with the then Dean of the UWA Faculty of Agriculture, Prof David Lindsay led him straight into a Masters in Natural Resource Management. That led to work in the Department of Agriculture WA during the establishment of the National Landcare Program, of which he became the State Coordinator. From 1994 to 2000 John taught in the Faculty of Agriculture and Centre for Environmental Studies of Satya Wacana University in Indonesia.
In addition to teaching and research at Murdoch University John continues to consult internationally in community development. He deeply appreciates the opportunity he had as an undergraduate to work closely with world class researchers in the School of Agriculture- their rigour and encouragement, and the strong community of staff and students that lasts to this day.
Director General, DAFWA
Mr Rob Delane took up the appointment as Director General of the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) on 2 November 2009.
Prior to this appointment he held the position of Deputy Secretary, Biosecurity Services Group and Executive Director Australian Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).
Mr Delane has 30 years experience with DAFWA. He started his career as a Rice Agronomist at Kununurra (five years). He was based at Geraldton for 14 years in the roles of Research Officer, District Manager, Regional Manager and Pulses and Oilseeds Program Manager. After moving to Perth in 1998 Rob has held a number of Senior Executive Service positions. Mr Delane has extensive knowledge of WA agriculture industries including tropical, temperate and rangelands regions, irrigated and dryland production, animal and plant industries, research and development, technology transfer and industry development, biosecurity and natural resource management, policy, regulation and promotion. He has held a number of national board and advisory committee positions.
He holds a Master of Science in Agricultural Science (1988) and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Science with first class honours (1979) from UWA. In 2007 Mr Delane received a Public Service Medal for outstanding service to the agricultural industries and community of Western Australia. Mr Delane is proud to lead an organisation that employs many UWA graduates and is a strong collaborator with the University.
Senior Lecturer and Graduate Advisor in the Fenner School of Environment and Society
Dr Richard Greene grew up in Perth, WA. He was a keen member of the army reserve and swimmer at Perth’s beaches during his university studies. After completing a BSc (with honours in Physical and Inorganic Chemistry) in 1970, he undertook a PhD in Soil Science (1971-1975), also at UWA.
He then joined the Victorian department of Agriculture. From 1975 to 1985 Dr Greene worked as a soils research officer at the Irrigation Research Institute, Tatura. From 1985 to 1993 he worked as a Senior Research Scientist in the CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology, firstly at Deniliquin, NSW, and later in Canberra, ACT. In 1993 he joined the Australian National University as a Lecturer in Soil and Land Management in the Geography Department.
Currently, Dr Greene is a Senior Lecturer and Graduate Advisor in the Fenner School of Environment and Society. Besides co-coordinating two courses in Soil and Land Management, he supervises several PhD, Masters and Honours students. His fondest memories of UWA are his days as a postgraduate student in the Department of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, conducting research and socialising with his fellow students and departmental staff, and the great discussions with his supervisors Professors Alan Posner and Jim Quirk. “My strongest advice to current postgraduate students is to get on with your research, and don’t get distracted by petty work politics; there is plenty of time for that later in the work force”, he says.
Senior Research Scientist, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Orange, NSW
Dr Sue Hatcher completed her Bachelor in 1989 and her PhD (Animal Science) in 1995. She then worked with the Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation (AWRAP)/International Wool Secretariat (IWS)/The Woolmark Company based in Fremantle as their WA Wool Grower Communications Officer. During those years opportunities became available to participate in various research projects involving early stage wool processing particularly consignment building and mill quality assurance.
In February 1997, Dr Hatcher left WA for a Livestock Research Officer position, specialising in Merino Breeding with NSW Agriculture based in Orange NSW. In the last 12 years her varied research program has included wool metrology and fibre identification, applied research of the genetic, economic and industry constraints impeding fine wool production across Australia and linking Merino breeding to wool processing.
Dr Hatcher says, "The focus put on science and its communication during both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at UWA have been of enormous benefit in my career.
"There is no point in conducting science if the outcomes of the research aren’t able to be effectively communicated to the targeted end user of the work. The skills I gained in this area while at UWA have been invaluable in extending the outcomes of my work to the wool industry."
Emeritus Professor of Biology, University of Sydney
Ian Hume completed his BSc (Agric) (Hons) at UWA in 1966 and his PhD in ruminant physiology with Professor Reg Moir in 1970. He spent a post-doctoral position in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Kentucky, USA. He then took an opportunity to teach a course ‘Nutrition of Wildlife and Fish’ at the University of California, Davis. After returning to Australia in 1973, Ian took up a lectureship in the Faculty of Rural Science at the University of New England.
Ian was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science from that University in 1986 for his Dissertation ‘Digestive Physiology and Nutrition of Herbivorous Mammals’.
The following year Ian moved to the University of Sydney to take up a Chair in Biology in the School of Biological Sciences. He was the Challis Professor of Biology from 1994 until his ‘retirement’ in 2003. Ian has authored or co-authored four books, co-edited three books, and written more than 170 scientific articles. He is an Honorary Life Member of the Comparative Nutrition Society (based in Washington DC) and the Australian Mammal Society. He won the Whitley Medal from the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales in 2000 for his book Marsupial Nutrition (Cambridge University Press) and the Troughton Medal from the Australian Mammal Society in 2004 for his outstanding contributions to the study of Australian mammals, and was elected to a Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science in 2007.
Ian says, "My training in Agricultural Science at UWA was the foundation for my academic success in a field related to but not in animal science. The BSc (Agric) degree had such a broad base across the sciences that I found it quite natural to move into a School of Biological Sciences.
"I often recall the banner identifying the Ag students’ display at the 1984 UWA Science Exhibition in the basement of Winthrop Hall; it proclaimed in large letters that 'Agriculture Integrates the Sciences'. I designed the banner, thinking at the time that it was slightly cheeky, but I realise now that it was true, and still is!"
Trade Policy Analyst Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute, Washington, DC
Dr Sallie James completed her Doctor of Philosophy through the School of Agricultural and Resource Economics (SARE) at UWA in 2003. Her dissertation, on consumers’ attitudes towards genetically modified food, was supported by an ARCSPIRT grant (in conjunction with the WA Department of Agriculture).
She then worked at the Australian Government DAFF for a year before moving to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Since 2006 she has been a trade policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a think-tank in Washington, DC. Her research focuses on many aspects of US and international trade policy, including agricultural trade policy and the trade policy implications of climate change regulations. She has very fond memories of her time at UWA and retains a special place in her heart for SARE.
Plant Records Manager, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore
Dr Nura Abdul Karim completed her Bachelor of Science (Horticulture) (Hons) in 1999 from the University of Western Australia. In 2000, she received the International Postgraduate Research Scholarship to undertake her PhD and in 2004, she successfully completed her study on “Molecular and enzymic groupings of fungi from tropical orchids of Western Australia and their patterns of tissue colonisation”.
Currently, Dr Abdul Karim works at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Living Collection Division, heading the Plant Records Unit. She oversees the database of the Gardens’ plant collection and ensuring the proper use of the collection for research and display. She is also a member of the Scientific Committee of the newly formed Pha Ta Ke Botanic Garden in Laos and along with other international researchers will assist in training and aid in an advisory capacity for the staff there.
Dr Abdul Karim says, "Studying at UWA was a memorable and great experience because of the environment, good resources, experienced staff and the friends made over the years. The knowledgeable lecturers were always willing to spend extra time to discuss topics that students had problems or disagreed with and this enhanced the learning experience for all. The group projects carried out with course mates and my own PhD research were rewarding."
Foundation Chair in Farming Systems, School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Charles Sturt University
Emeritus Professor David Kemp arrived in WA in 1975 to start his PhD at UWA. After completing his postgraduate studies, he returned to Orange, NSW, where the then NSW Department of Agriculture was building up a major Research Institute.
After 20 years doing cropping, weed and pastoral research he was appointed to the Foundation Chair in Farming Systems at the University of Sydney (1999) and to the same position at Charles Sturt University in 2006, when the Orange Campus was transferred between the two Universities. He is now an Emeritus Professor of the University of Sydney, and Professor of Charles Sturt. Prof Kamp has a background in pasture and crop agronomy, plant physiology, applied ecology and the management of livestock grazing systems (dairy, beef, sheep and others). His research aims to develop the applied discipline of sustainable farming; the management and integration of soils, plants, animals, economics and sociology into viable, sustainable enterprises. He has worked in the subtropics and temperate zones on pastures, grasslands, (wheat) crops, forage and livestock production systems.
Recent work involved devising more cost-effective, sustainable management practices for livestock production from degraded grasslands in both north-western China and Australia. His research was published in over 300 papers (Australian and international journals, books, local and major international conferences). Currently, he is writing a book with others, on the Sustainable Development of Grasslands in Western China and editing another on the Grasslands of China. Prof Kemp chairs the Committee organising the 2013 International Grassland Congress in Australia. He is a member of the Continuing Committee for the International Grassland Congresses representing Oceania. He is establishing the China – Australia Network for Grassland Farming Systems, to foster collaboration between the two countries.
School of Agriculture and Environment, Curtin University of Technology, Northam WA
Dr Pippa Michael completed her Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons) in 2001. She received her PhD on the “Agro-ecology of small-flowered mallow” in 2006 (GRDC funded project) from UWA. Dr Michael then began working as a field biologist with Syngenta Crop Protection for a year before taking up her current position as a Research Fellow at Curtin University, based in Northam at the Muresk campus. Her current area of research remains within the agricultural weed ecology field. She is involved in several collaborative projects including weed seed grain contamination and their herbicide resistant status (with WAHRI, UWA), determining emerging weeds in WA agricultural systems through field and farmer surveys (with DAFWA) and spatial dormancy patterns in annual ryegrass (with WAHRI).
The Honourable Terry Redman, Minister for Agriculture and Food WA, is a proud graduate of UWA’s Institute of Agriculture, graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) in 1984.
After five years at UWA, Mr Redman taught at a number of agricultural colleges in WA including Narrogin, Morawa and Denmark. He enjoyed imparting his passion for agriculture to his students. Mr Redman spent nine years as Principal of Denmark Ag college – the youngest principal ever appointed to an Ag College in WA. Mr Redman and his wife Marie have been small business owners in the area for seven years and prior to that, were partners in a family farming operation at the Porongurups for 14 years. Mr Redman entered State Parliament in 2005 and is now the member for Blackwood-Stirling, which sees him personally represent the area from Denmark to Augusta to Boyup Brook.
In September 2008 Mr Redman was sworn in as Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry as part of the new Liberal-National State Government. Since being elected Minister, Mr Redman has set out clear priorities for progressive and profitable agriculture, food and forestry sectors – which remain the unsung heroes of the WA economy. Mr Redman is particularly interested in an effective system of regional saleyards, encouraging the expansion of the Ord River Area, opening up market opportunities for more WA produce and promoting a positive image of the WA agriculture, food and forestry sectors. The highlight for Mr Redman from his time at UWA, was the regional study tours where the educational value was surpassed only by the level of commitment to the local watering holes by his fellow students. Mr Redman says “I would encourage people from all walks of life to get involved with agriculture.
He says,"Gone are the days of agriculture being seen as the poor cousin of other sciences – we are in a cutting edge, high tech and highly competitive industry. Agriculture and food will continue to be the cornerstone of our state economy and I am so keen to use the opportunity I’ve been given as Minister to make a real difference to our industries.”
Chief Research Scientist and Program Leader ‘High Performance Crops for Australia, CSIRO Division of Plant Industry, Canberra
Dr Richard Richards, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (2004) received his BSc at Melbourne University in 1971.
The following year he completed a B Sc (Hons) (First Class) at LaTrobe University. From 1975 Dr Richards took up a position of lecturer in the Botany Department at UWA. He completed his PhD from the then Agronomy Department at UWA in 1976. He was appointed as Research Scientist, CSIRO, Division of Plant Industry, Canberra between 1976 and February 1980. Later that year he became a Research Agronomist, Agronomy and Range Science Dept, University of California, Davis (1980 - May 1981). He returned to CSIRO in 1981 as Research Scientist. Over the years Dr Richards has held various positions like Principal Scientist HRZ Wheats Pty Ltd (since 2002) and an editorial position for several international agricultural science journals.
He is a world renowned scientist on drought and crop water use and has won the CSIRO Medal: Leader – Delta carbon water use efficiency team 2002. He sits on the Advisory Committee to Enhance US education and research capacity for drought tolerance (2006 – 2010), He was President of the Wheat Breeding Society of Australia from 1994- 1996. Dr Richards is currently an Adjunct Professor within the School of Plant Biology at UWA.
Director, Post harvest and Processing Research and Development Office, Department of Agriculture,
Dr Surmsuk Salakpetch completed her MSc (Horticulture) at the then School of Agriculture, UWA in 1989. She went on to complete her PhD (Horticulture) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA. Her dissertation was entitled, “Flower Bud Formation in Carambola (Averrhoa carambola L.) as Affected by Temperature, Day length, Water stress and Girdling”.
During her study at UWA she was supported by ACNARP (Australian Cooperation National Agricultural Research Program) grant, the collaborated project between Australia and Thailand. Before going for further study at UWA, she worked as an agricultural scientist, tropical fruit physiology, at the Department of Agriculture, Thailand. Dr Salakpetch returned to the same position after graduating from UWA. She enjoyed working with tropical fruit in the eastern region of Thailand. At the moment, she is focusing on administration and takes responsibility on post harvest and processing research. “I had a great time at UWA. The buildings, landscapes and the whole environment of the University are still in my memories,” she reminisces.
Research Officer, Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia
Mr Richard Snowball completed his honours degree in 1982. He then spent a short time working on the dung beetle project at CSIRO, Floreat before taking up a research position with the Department of Agriculture in Albany working on harvesting technologies of field crops.
In 1986 he joined the pasture science group at DAFWA head office where he continues to work in the area of genetic resources. He took over the role of Curator of the pasture genebank from Bill Collins in 1996, and soon after began a period of germplasm exploration that took him to many overseas destinations. From the Azores to Israel and the Aegean Islands to Eritrea he undertook nine missions, adding significantly to the collection of pasture legumes. The genebank is now in an enhancement phase where the value of the collections is being improved. Mr Snowball works closely with CLIMA/UWA researcher Dr Kioumars Ghamkhar in the development of Core Collections to improve conservation and breeding outcomes.
Richard says, “Above all else, working in agriculture and genetic resources has allowed me to help others. From poor farmers in remote corners of the globe to our own farmers and fellow searchers, conserving and providing germplasm for the present and future has been particularly satisfying”.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Mr Dave Wreford graduated BSc(Agric) from UWA in 1966. His first job, based in Toronto, Canada, was with the Southam Corporation as a field writer for their farm publications. He was subsequently transferred to Winnipeg. Later he worked for United Grain Growers (UGG) Ltd, a grain company with interests in the agriculture publishing fi eld.
In 1974, after another stint in Toronto, UGG returned him to Winnipeg as editor of Canada’s national English language monthly farm magazine. He held that position for 31 years until retirement in 2005. Mr Wreford continues to do contract work for his former employer and other organisations as well. Mr Wreford’s recollections of UWA, and St. George’s College where he lived as a student, are unreservedly fond.
The excellent theoretical knowledge imparted by various professors in different segments of the biological sciences made for an easy transition to his chosen field in North America.
His advice to today’s undergraduates: “It’s a great big wonderful world out there, prepare to enjoy it, and don’t be limited by geographic or cultural boundaries.”