BRENDON CANT brendon at iinet.net.au
Wed Jan 30 09:01:31 CET 2008





William Erskine, Assistant Director General (Research) at the International
Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Syria for the
last seven years, has commenced as Director of  the Centre for Legumes In
Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA) as it consolidates its third phase as a
research centre within the University of Western Australia (UWA).


UK born, Professor Erskine completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1973, a Masters
of Agriculture in 1976 and a PhD (University of Cambridge, Department of
Applied Biology) in 1979.


He was a tutor with the Agriculture Faculty of the University of Papua New
Guinea, 1973 to 1977; Coultshurst scholar, Department of Applied Biology,
Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1978 to 1979; Post-doctoral fellow in lentil
breeding at ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria, 1980 to1981; lentil breeder at ICARDA,
1981 to 1998 and Leader, Germplasm Improvement Program, ICARDA, 1998 to


While working for the Rome-based International Board for Plant Genetic
Resources in 1979, assignments included leading an expedition to collect
crop germplasm in the far-west of Nepal.


Professor Erskine intends to maintain CLIMA's focus on beneficial outcomes
for WA legume growers and industry, while improving links to other
Australian and overseas legume research groups.


These international links include several existing important projects with
ICARDA and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid
Tropics (ICRISAT) in India.


"Such international collaboration gives access to elite germplasm and,
typically, faster selection and development of grain and pasture legume
varieties that will grow profitably in the target environment," he said.


CLIMA has released more than 45 grain and pasture legume varieties, produced
research outcomes with very significant benefits for WA farming systems and
trained more than 100 post-graduates in legume science, many of whom have
made significant impacts on the industry.


However, Professor Erskine acknowledged that for CLIMA to continue to
innovate in legume science and technology and play its part in maintaining
and, hopefully, expanding legume crops, robust crop production solutions
must be provided in partnership with grower groups and the industry.


"Identifying germplasm with appropriate levels of resistance and then
developing workable agronomic packages is the ideal mix and the one CLIMA
will concentrate its resources on," Professor Erskine said.


CLIMA has been headquartered at UWA's Crawley campus since commencing in
1992 as a Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) and transforming in 2000, after
its CRC phase ended, into a research alliance between the WA Department of
Agriculture and Food (DAFWA), UWA, CSIRO and Murdoch University.


Last year the CLIMA Board endorsed a plan to continue CLIMA as a research
centre at UWA from July 1, 2007, with continued collaboration with DAFWA,
CSIRO, Murdoch University and others.


Welcoming Professor Erskine's appointment, UWA Chair in Agriculture and UWA
Institute of Agriculture Director, Professor Kadambot Siddique, a former
CLIMA Director (2001 to 2006),

said CLIMA's partners in the farming community and industry would benefit
from a fresh and sharpened focus.


"William has spent 25 years working with legumes and is an internationally
respected scientist and a proven leader and manager of outcome driven
research teams, which made him the right appointment, from a strong field of
candidates, to promote productive, profitable legumes in rotations as a key
to sustainable agriculture in WA," Professor Siddique said.


HYPERLINK "http://www.fnas.uwa.edu.au/"www.ioa.uwa.edu.au


Authorised by 'Institute of Agriculture - UWA' and issued on its behalf by

Brendon Cant & Associates, Tel 08 9384 1122



Professor Kadambot Siddique, Tel 08 6488 7012, Mobile 0411 155 396

Professor William Erskine, Tel 08 6488 1903






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