Cereals researcher elected to Australian Academy

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Leading University of Adelaide cereals researcher Professor Geoff Fincher has been elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) - one of the highest honours available in the field in Australia.

Professor Fincher, who is Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls at the University's Waite campus, is among 25 eminent business names, academics, researchers and other leaders announced as new Fellows by the Academy today.

The Academy Fellows are among the most influential names in technological sciences and engineering and have been responsible for key advances over the past 40 years.

With a research career spanning more than 40 years, Professor Fincher has made significant contributions to agriculture and Australian plant science. His research group has made important discoveries concerning the biology of plant cell walls in cereal crops, including the identification of the genetics underlying the nutritionally important compound beta-glucan. This research is leading to the development of healthier varieties of major cereal crops.

"Professor Fincher leads major national research programs, giving critical insights into the structure and biological significance of carbohydrates and enzymes in cereal crops, notably wheat and barley," the Academy's citation says. "This has commercial applications in plant breeding, food processing, human health and renewable fuel production."

Professor Fincher has won many awards including, in 2013, the Thomas Burr Osborne Medal by the American Association of Cereal Chemists International for distinguished services to cereal chemistry internationally and, in 2001, the FB Guthrie Award in recognition of his services to cereal chemistry in Australia.

He was a former Director of the Waite campus and has helped establish more than $100 million of state-of-the-art research facilities at the campus including the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics and the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (the Plant Accelerator).

As Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls, he leads more than 100 scientific staff and postgraduate students at three Australian nodes. The Centre is linked with a network of six international partner organisations in Europe, Scandinavia and the United States. Professor Fincher retires at the end of this year.

"I am highly honoured to be elected to the Academy," says Professor Fincher. "This is wonderful recognition of the work of our dedicated scientists in the ARC Centre and the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine and gives prominence to the important role this research plays in the future for global agriculture, human health and alternative energy industries."


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