A researcher from The University of Western Australia whose work has had a positive impact on agriculture and land rehabilitation in Australia and around the world, Winthrop Professor Zdenko (Zed) Rengel, has been awarded a prestigious Humboldt Research Award.
The award, from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, honours von Humboldt (1769-1859), researcher, explorer, and ‘father' of disciplines such as physical geography, climatology, ecology and oceanography. The foundation promotes academic cooperation between excellent scientists and scholars from Germany and abroad.
Professor Rengel, of UWA's School of Earth and Environment, and Centre for Land Rehabilitation, is also Program Leader of Integrated Land and Water Management. His research interests are in nutrient uptake and ion toxicity in the soil-plant-water-microbe continuum. He has worked on natural and managed ecosystems in the field digging pits and holes to access soil, roots and groundwater as well as studied specific ion transport mechanisms and soil-plant interactions in the glasshouse and the laboratory.
His research includes optimising fertilisation of crop and pasture plants, soil acidity and aluminium toxicity, genotypic differences in nutrient acquisition and utilisation, and computer modelling of root growth and nutrient uptake.
Professor Rengel has edited six books, four special issues of the journal Plant and Soil and published more than 260 papers in the refereed international journals. He has received funding from the Australian Research Council, Grains Research and Development Corporation, Dairy Research Development Corporation, AUSAid and a range of other funding bodies.
His work has been recognised by 14 fellowship awards from Australia, UK, Germany, France, Austria and Japan and 10 Visiting/Honorary Professorships, including in Japan (Okayama University), Denmark (KVL) and USA (USDA/Cornell University). He is an elected Fellow of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences and has an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Zagreb University.
The Humboldt Research Award is conferred in recognition of lifetime achievements in research. Professor Rengel has been invited to carry out research projects of his choice in cooperation with specialist colleagues in Germany.