‘Speed breeder’ sprints to an award

14 June 2019

A researcher who is helping farmers by developing crop “speed breeding” technology has been recognised with one of Australia’s top awards.

Dr Lee Hickey from The University of Queensland has been presented with an ICM Agrifood Award at a gala event in Sydney, organised by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

Dr Hickey leads a research team at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation that focuses on plant breeding and genetics research into Australia’s most important cereal crops, wheat and barley.

He has played a key role in applying technology that enables up to six generations per year for major crops like wheat, barley and chickpea.

Academy President, Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, congratulated Dr Hickey on stage at the awards celebration. 

Academy President, Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE, congratulated Dr Hickey.

“The ICM Agrifood Awards recognise early-career scientists or technologists who have demonstrated excellence, innovation and impact in relation to food and agriculture in Australia

“The nation’s future prosperity depends on embracing new technology to address critical national challenges.

“More than ever, we need knowledge creation, technology and innovation that can be harnessed to drive commercialisation and economic and social benefit.

“Dr Hickey has made a tremendous contribution with his technology slashing the time to develop improved varieties for farmers.”

Dr Hickey said the technology had been used to create novel wheat varieties in Australia and was being adopted by plant breeding programs around the world.

“We face the challenge of developing more robust and productive crops to feed our growing populations.

“Raising farmers’ productivity is vital for our economy and for the consumer.”

Dr Hickey said he was honoured to be awarded an ICM Agrifood Award. “I’m proud that my work has been recognised by this Learned Academy. I especially thank my colleagues and collaborators around the world for contributing to the speed breeding innovation and supporting my career.”

The ICM Agrifood Awards recognise and acknowledge the outstanding work of two early career scientists or technologists, one female and one male.

Winners each receive $5000, sponsored by ICM Agribusiness, one of Australia’s major agribusiness groups. The Awards are administered by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering.

You can see a video of Dr Hickey talking about his work here:

For interviews or more information: David Glanz, 0438 547 723 or david.glanz@applied.org.au or Ben Hickey, 0425 888 877 or Dr Lee Hickey, UQ , E. l.hickey@uq.edu.au M: +61 408 210 286.