Dookie professor receives AM

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Professor Tim Reeves, AM.

Professor Tim Reeves has travelled the world, led international research and worked for the United Nations, but some of his fondest memories are working with farmers in northern Victoria.

Prof Reeves, the professor-in-residence at University of Melbourne’s Dookie campus, was named in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours list for significant service to sustainable agriculture research and production.

He has been made a member in the general division of the Order of Australia (AM).

Prof Reeves is a former director of the Rutherglen Research Institute and spent many years based in the region.

“That’s where it all started,” he recalled.

“There were so many new developments emerging in those days.”

International pressures were coming to bear on crop selection, so farmers were looking at these new oilseed crops like rape seed, and traditional sowing techniques were being challenged by the ‘no till’ approach.

“It was very exciting; the golden age of agronomy,” Prof Reeves aid.

“I can remember a field day at Rutherglen when we had more than 1000 farmers.”

He values the time he spent with farmers and students, but Prof Reeves, 77, also believes a highlight of his career was his time as director-general of the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), in Mexico, between 1995 and 2002.

The non-profit organisation develops improved varieties of wheat and maize with the aim of contributing to food security, and innovates agricultural practices to help boost production, prevent crop disease and improve smallholder farmers' livelihoods.

Prof Reeves’ other roles have included:

  • Board member, Foundation for Arable Research, New Zealand, 2010-14.
  • Member, Project Advisory Group on Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change, Ministry for Research, Science and Technology, New Zealand, 2008-2011.
  • Member, Genetic Resources Policy Committee, CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research), and chair, Center Directors Committee, Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, 1995-2002.
  • Chair, Review of Project 45782: Securing the biological basis of agriculture, Global Crop Diversity Trust, 2012-13.
  • Expert evaluator, Framework Projects on Food Safety and Quality, European Commission, 2003-05.
  • Technical Advisory Board member, Restore Australia, since 2020.

Prof Reeves has published more than 180 papers, book chapters, and articles and his awards have included:

  • Farrer Memorial Medal, Farrer Memorial Trust, NSW Department of Primary Industries, 2019.
  • Professor CM Donald Medal for ‘lifetime achievement in agronomy', Australian Society of Agronomy, 2017.
  • Doctor of Agricultural Science (honorary), University of Melbourne, 2016.
  • Vice-Chancellor's Award 'for outstanding contribution', Deakin University, 2004.
  • Centenary Medal 'for service to Australian society in agriculture', 2001.
  • Fellow, Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering Australia, since 2001.

Prof Reeves is in his fifth year as professor-in-residence at Dookie and, while still in good health, was thinking about slowing down, but hadn’t made a decision yet.