Thirty seven years after finishing his honours degree at the University of Wollongong, Professor Robert Furbank has been awarded an Honorary Doctoral Degree (Doctor of Science) by his former University.
The University of Wollongong (UOW) awarded the degree in recognition for Professor Furbank’s outstanding scholarship in plant biology and his national and international service to sustainable agricultural development and innovation.
The official ceremony took place on April 27th at the autumn graduation celebrations.
Professor Furbank is the first person in his family to attend university. He received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Wollongong in 1979 and later graduated with a doctorate from The Australian National University (ANU).
“It makes me very proud being a graduate from this University,” he said during his graduation speech.
“My [Honours] degree at this University taught me how to think, how to look at data, form hypothesis and conclusions, introduce me to the scientific method which I have used every day in my life since then,” he said.
Professor Furbank is currently the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational photosynthesis.
In 2009, he established the High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre in CSIRO and led these national facilities until 2015. Professor Furbank’s significant contribution to the agricultural industry was recognised in 2014 when he received the CSIRO Plant Industry Leadership Award.
He is part of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, the International Wheat Yield Consortium and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Global Rice Initiative Science Partnership.
He also leads advisory teams of the International Wheat Yield Consortium and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation C4 Rice Consortium, and is a board member for two plant phenotyping networks.
“I am constantly reminded of the importance of what I am doing and that it’s not just for the Australian farmer but for the many millions of people globally living on less than $1 a day,” he said.