An eminent international soil microbiologist has been appointed to lead The University of Western Australia's Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.
Professor Tony O'Donnell is currently Director of the Institute for Research in Environment and Sustainability at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.
UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Alan Robson said the university was pleased to attract a scientist of the calibre of Professor O'Donnell. He said the appointment would strengthen the University's reputation of international excellence.
"Professor O'Donnell is an outstanding academic of international standing and he has a very strong track record of leadership," Professor Robson said.
"Professor O'Donnell is expected to take up the position in August and will build on the excellent work done by the former Dean Professor Alistar Robertson who this year took up the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Innovation)."
Professor O'Donnell's recent research has included the relationship between biodiversity and function in soils including work in Antarctic, tropical and temperate systems and the impact of fertilizers on biodiversity and function in managed grasslands.
He was Professor of Soil Microbiology and Molecular Ecology and Head of the Graduate School in the Faculty of Agriculture and Biological Sciences at Newcastle University. Professor O'Donnell obtained his PhD in 1979 from the University of Bristol.
Nationally, he held a position on the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council grants board for Plant and Microbial Sciences and on their Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Panel. He also sat on the Natural Environment Research Council research advisory panel for the Centres for Ecology and Hydrology (Biodiversity panel).
Internationally, he has chaired the grants board of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and holds adjunct Professorships in Thailand and Brazil. He has strong research interests in SE Asia and has led training workshops and UK trade missions in Thailand, Malaysia and Korea.
More recently, with Thailand and India he has been developing a research programme in bioenergy based around Jatropha and the conversion of municipal waste to biogas.
Further information regarding Professor O'Donnell is available at: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/environment/people/profile/tony.o'donnell
Professor Alan Robson 61 8 6488 2809
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) 61 8 6488 5563 / 0432 637 716