Australian water research into climate change awarded the prestigious Kyoto Prize

Posted 4 July 2017

An Australian National University (ANU) scientist has put Australian water research on the international stage, becoming the first Australian to ever win the Kyoto Prize.

The Kyoto Prize is widely considered as the most prestigious award for fields not traditionally honoured with a Nobel Prize. 

Dr Graham Farquhar applied his expertise in plant biophysics and photosynthesis to study water efficient crops, and he was acknowledged for his work’s contributions to agricultural advancement in the face of a changing climate.

"It's wonderful to get this kind of international recognition, but it also brings on a case of imposter syndrome," Farquhar said.

"The work that this prize recognises has really been a team effort, so I'd like to acknowledge my colleagues, students and the ANU, where I have worked for my whole career. It's a wonderful honour for all of us."

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC said: “This award acknowledges [Farquhar’s] crucial work and global leadership to help feed the world in a changing climate.”

"I'm proud that we have a person of his calibre working at ANU, tackling some of the most profound challenges facing humanity and the environment."

The Australian Government acknowledged Farquhar’s achievement, commending his life’s work and its contribution to food safety in Australia and the world

"Dr Farquhar's Kyoto Prize is another feather in the cap for a man with an incredibly distinguished career who has been able to make significant contributions to environmental and food sciences," Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said. 

"I offer him our congratulations on this deserved honour and we look forward to his continued contributions to this field of science that is so important, especially for Australia."   

Australian Ambassador to Japan Richard Court AC said: “Dr Farquhar is one of Australia's most eminent and ground-breaking scientists, responsible for reshaping our understanding of photosynthesis – the very basis of life on Earth.”

Farquhar will receive the equivalent of $600,000 as part of the award.