Robert Park awarded top science prize in Australia

By November 12, 2020February 20th, 2024No Comments

For more than three decades, Robert F. Park has led world-class efforts to develop cereal varieties with built-in genetic disease resistance. On November 24, the preeminent plant pathologist was awarded the 2020 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Leadership in Innovation and Science. It is among the prizes often called the “Oscars” of Australian science.

Park, a member of the Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat (DGGW) advisory board, has successfully translated biological discoveries about cereals and the rusts that attack them to the real world. His research has had a sustained global impact on the economic viability of wheat, oat and barley production, and food security.

“Dr. Park has been integral to the success of the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative’s Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat and Delivering Genetic Gain in Wheat projects,” said Maricelis Acevedo, associate director for science for the DGGW project. “He provided essential leadership in pathotyping races of rust and helped train upcoming generations of wheat scientists around the world.”

Park, the Judith and David Coffey Chair of Sustainable Agriculture and Director of Cereal Rust Research at the University of Sydney, began his career with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, where he worked on the impact of wheat stripe rust in the Australian wheat belt. He joined the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute in 1988 to study rust disease of cereals.

Presented annually by the Australian Museum (AM) for 30 years, the Eureka Prizes reward scientific excellence in the fields of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement and school science.  Park was among the finalists in the running for 17 AM Eureka Prizes to be awarded across those four categories. The 2020 AM Eureka Prize winners were announced during a live-digital event on Tuesday, 24 November at 6:45 pm AEDT, with an interactive app to allow the online audience to take part in the proceedings.


Written by:

Linda McCandless

Senior Associate Director for Communications

Linda McCandless is a writer and editor who specializes in international agriculture and development, persuasive story-telling and strategic communications. She is a strong advocate for science communication training, and science-based journalism with a focus on diversity and empowering lesser-heard voices.

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