"Brain gain" grows from plant biotech
Thursday, 23 October 2003
South Australia's international reputation for research into plant biotechnology is resulting in a "brain gain" for Adelaide, says the newly appointed Director of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute, the University of Adelaide's Professor Geoff Fincher.
The Waite Institute, established in 1924, has long been recognised as the premier agricultural research precinct in the southern hemisphere.
As its new Director, Professor Fincher is charged with the task of further enhancing the research and education capabilities of the University of Adelaide's Faculty of Sciences on the Waite Campus, and extending the strong linkages between the university and its co- located partners at the Waite.
"Our strong track record in agricultural research and biotechnology is having a major effect, with key international scientists being attracted to Adelaide," Professor Fincher says.
In fact, the recent appointment of two leading researchers from the UK sparked a story last month in The Guardian newspaper with fears of a brain drain to Australia:
- Dr Mark Tester from Cambridge has received a Federation Fellowship from the Australian Government and will be based at the new $35 million Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics at the Waite;
- Professor Wayne Powell from the Scottish Crop Research Institute has been appointed the new Head of the School of Agriculture and Wine.
"At the Waite, our reputation for agricultural technology is not just a historic one - it continues to flourish and grow with every new student and staff member who comes here, and with every new discovery," Professor Fincher says.
"Our reputation is bound to attract some of the best people in the world, and Dr Tester and Professor Powell are certainly among them.
"There is often much discussion about 'brain drains' from Australia, but we know that further developments in agricultural biotechnology will only lead to a 'brain gain' for Adelaide and Australia," he says.
Prior to his appointment as Director of the Waite Institute, Professor Fincher spent 10 years as Head of the university's Department of Plant Science.
Professor Fincher has a distinguished research career in cereal science and technology both in Australia and abroad, and he was one of the principal applicants for the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) based at the Waite Campus. He is now Deputy CEO of ACPFG Pty Ltd.
"Under the directorship of Professor Fincher, the Waite Campus will continue to provide world-leading research and teaching in a host of agricultural disciplines - including plant breeding technologies, plant functional genomics, integrated pest management, earth sciences, horticulture, oenology (winemaking) and viticulture," says the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Professor Peter Rathjen.
"This is an exciting time not just for the University of Adelaide but also our campus partners, industry and government, as the Waite continues to show the world what we are capable of."