15 April 2010

Professor Robert Henry has been appointed Professor of Innovation in Agriculture and Director of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), a new research Institute at The University of Queensland (UQ).

QAAFI is a joint initiative of the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) and UQ.

Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries, Rural and Regional Queensland Tim Mulherin said the appointment is in recognition of the Bligh Government’s long-standing and highly successful relationship with UQ in agriculture and related research.

“Through this appointment and the subsequent shaping of QAAFI the Bligh Government will be initiating world class research into agricultural innovation,” Mr Mulherin said.

“Professor Henry comes to QAAFI from the Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics at Southern Cross University in New South Wales and has a remarkable history of achievement.

“He is a highly cited scientist with a background in the application of molecular techniques, used to identify plant variation useful in agriculture, especially in the development of higher value crops.

“This appointment is most welcome and will enable this new UQ Institute, QAAFI to take shape,” he said.

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu said the University was delighted that such an internationally renowned scientist as Professor Henry had accepted the role as the Institute’s inaugural Director.

“Professor Henry will strengthen Queensland’s involvement in high-end science, which will deliver great pay-offs for Queensland agribusinesses,” Professor Lu said.

“His direction of QAAFI should see this burgeoning Institute capitalise on new science platforms in areas such as genomics, materials science and advanced systems modelling to create new innovations for Queensland’s food and agribusinesses.”

Professor Henry, who takes up his appointment in May 2010, is a graduate of UQ (Bachelor of Science (Hons), Macquarie University (Master of Science Hons) and La Trobe University (PhD).

He was also awarded a Doctor of Science by UQ in 2001 for his work on analysis of variation in plants.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Professor Henry was employed by the former Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

This included a period as senior principal scientist at the Queensland Wheat Research Institute where his work included assessment of quality in barley for use in malting and brewing and research on the impact of pre-harvest sprouting on the end-use quality of wheat.

“Agriculture is central to many current global environmental and social issues, food security, energy security, water security, adaptation to climate change and human nutrition and health,” Professor Henry said.

“Rapidly evolving technologies in biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technology are providing new opportunities to advance sustainable agriculture and food production.”

Professor Henry said the products of agriculture increasingly extended beyond food and fibre to energy and a wide range of renewable bio-materials.

“The research challenge is to increase the efficiency and sustainability of production and the value of both the traditional and new products of agriculture,” he said.

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