Plant pathologist Mal Ryley has won the prestigious Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) award for excellence in grain communications in the northern region.
James Clark, GRDC northern panel chair says Dr Ryley is driven by benefit to industry, a quiet achiever who has devoted his career to combatting yield-limiting diseases in summer crops.
“Mal’s plant pathology research, particularly in sorghum, is recognised both nationally and internationally,” Mr Clark said.
Dr Ryley’s colleagues added to the plaudits, describing him as ‘one of nature’s gentlemen’ who is well known for his collegial approach to attribution of research achievements.
“The Seed of Light award is the most prestigious award bestowed by GRDC and the Panel is delighted to honour Mal Ryley for his efforts in GRDC-supported research,” Mr Clark said.
Dr Ryley was exposed to research at an early age, living on a government research farm at Rocklea where his father was a veterinary surgeon and researcher.
“I could roam at will (with some restrictions) and also absorb some of the animal research that was being carried out,” he said.
His interest in science was piqued at high school but a rocky start to his university career saw him leave to take a job at the Queensland Department of Mines as a cadet cartographer or map maker.
“It was the 1970s and things were good. Where did I want to be in 20 years’ time – behind a desk or outside in the open air? No choice really,” Dr Ryley said.
The following year he resumed his science degree, much to the disapproval of his parents, but with a more mature attitude, he says.
“Among the subjects I studied was Botany 101 and I was fascinated, having never done any botany before.
“I studied all of the botany subjects I could, one being mycology and this subject really caught my imagination.
“These beautiful fungi with their interesting shapes could actually be seen by the eye and under a microscope, unlike atoms and other chemistry.”
Dr Ryley says he has worked in plant pathology for 30 years with the primary aim of developing and extending integrated management packages for diseases on a range of field crops, including sorghum, soybeans, mungbeans, peanuts and chickpeas.
The research has included studying the biology of the pathogens and their interaction with the environment and host, developing fungicide spray strategies, and identifying sources of resistance in breeding lines to major pathogens.
Caption: James Clark, GRDC northern panel chair presents Dr Mal Ryley with the 2014 Seed of Light award.
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GRDC Northern Panel Chair
0427 545 212
Cox Inall Communications
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