Queen's honour for plant scientist

11 June 2013

Dedicating more than 40 years to the field of biophysics and creating a new strain of water-efficient wheat are among Graham Farquhar’s career achievements that have awarded him with a 2013 Queen’s Birthday honour.

Distinguished Professor Farquhar has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to science in the areas of plant physiology and climate change, and was one of a number of ANU staff members named in this year’s Queen’s Birthday list.

Professor Farquhar, a biophysicist Lab leader with the Research School of Biology in the College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, said he was thrilled to receive the award.

“What is really nice about the Order of Australia Medal is that the public and your family know and can recognise this one, as opposed to other achievements that only scientists know about,” he said.

“The fact I was even considered was wonderful, and a complete surprise. Then to receive the letter to say I had been awarded it was just even more fantastic.

“It’s nice to try and help society – it’s even nicer to be recognised for that work.”

Professor Farquhar has been an ANU researcher since the mid-1970s, and in the 1980s was responsible for leading a group of researchers who developed a model that could calculate the water use efficiency of plants.

The model, based on carbon isotope composition and called ‘Delta’ has been used to help agronomists and plant physiologists analyse their crops to work out why they get certain results, and led to the CSIRO release of the wheat variety Drysdale.

“The ANU has always been very supportive of me and provides a marvellous environment for my research to take place,” Professor Farquhar said.

“The wheat work was all done here in Canberra. It was an initial theory in 1982 and the first publication was done in 1984.

“What has been great about the work is that the technique and knowledge underlying it can be applied to other plants.”

Professor Farquhar has a long list of career achievements including recently being elected to the US National Academy of Sciences and in 2008 was the joint recipient of the Nobel Prize.

He is also a fellow of The Australian Academy of Science and the Royal Society.

For more than 20 years Professor Farquhar has been a contributing author and reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and, in addition, has produced some 300 research publications and three published titles.

Source: ANU News - see original article.

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