Historic expansion of animal & crop research on Waite Centenary

Story orginally posted in News from the University of Adelaide, Wednesday 6 March, 2013

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The largest expansion of university-based research into animal and crop health and production in Australian history has been outlined by the University of Adelaide today.

Investing more than $50 million from its endowment, the University will create six new research professorships at its Waite and Roseworthy Campuses, a new animal research centre at Roseworthy, new postdoctoral fellowships, and purchase new research equipment.

“These initiatives will make a major contribution to international research in agriculture and animal production, and confirm Adelaide as the leading centre for animal and agricultural research in Australia,” says University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Warren Bebbington.

“Its now a century since Peter Waite made his extraordinary gift of his Urrbrae estate to the University. Today Waite is the focus for key major research organisations, and we wish to help the Waite achieve global prominence as an agricultural science research consortium. Not since Peter Waite have we seen an investment even close to this magnitude for agricultural science research in this country.”

The funds come from investment of the gifts of two benefactors, JAT Mortlock and JS Davies, whose express wishes were to support these fields. “We are extremely proud to be able to honour their memories in a way that will not only support South Australia’s farming community, but also address global issues of food security and climate change adaptation,” says Professor Bebbington.

At Roseworthy Campus the University will establish:

– The JS Davies Animal Research Centre – building on existing strengths with a focus on production, global food security, biosecurity and animal welfare;
– Two professorships – the JS Davies Chair in Animal Health and the JS Davies Chair in Animal Production – to take leading roles in the new Centre and including research equipment and research infrastructure and post-doctoral research and technical support staff.

These two new professorships will supplement the existing JS Davies Chair in the area of epigenetics and genetics.

At Waite Campus the University will establish:

– The JAT Mortlock Chair in Agricultural, Horticultural and Pastoral Science, who will also be Director of the Waite Research Institute;
– Three professorships – the JAT Mortlock Chairs in Plant Stress, Crop Protection and Crop Improvement – supported by research staff in crop epigenetics, stress response biology, plant-pest interactions, genetics of resistance, reproductive biology and crop performance.

“Developing here in Australia a critical mass of specialist researchers in these fields will help to transform international animal and crop production and health, as the world faces more volatile climates,” says Professor Bebbington.

Professor Bebbington highlighted the impact that philanthropic giving can have on university research. “We take donor intentions very seriously, because philanthropy can make a major contribution to the University’s ability to develop research for the growth of the economy of our state and nation,” he says.

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