MARK Sweetingham last week received a Public Service Medal for 'Outstanding public service to scientific research and development of the grains industry in Western Australia', as part of the 2022 Australia Day awards.
Dr Sweetingham was acknowledged for his immense contribution and dedication to the agriculture and food sector, particularly the grains industry.
His commitment to the public sector spanned 37 years, most recently as the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development deputy director general until 2020.
After completing a PhD in plant pathology at the University of Tasmania, Dr Sweetingham started his professional career with the department in 1983 as a plant pathologist.
He contributed extensively to the development of the WA lupin industry, particularly in the anthracnose disease outbreak of 1994, before moving into senior positions in the grains directorate.
Dr Sweetingham was integral to a joint venture agreement between the department, CSIRO/Food Science Australia and Curtin University that led to a national Centre for Grain Food Innovation opening in Perth in November 2009.
He was also instrumental in establishing the Australian Centre for Necrotrophic Fungal Pathogens and the Western Crop Genetics Alliance at Murdoch University and the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre, of which he was the inaugural chief executive officer.
DPIRD director general Terry Hill said Dr Sweetingham was as incredibly deserving recipient of a Public Service Medal.
"Mark had the ability to draw upon high-level technical expertise in crop protection, plant breeding, biosecurity and agronomy in his leadership roles as deputy and director general," Mr Hill said.
"His steadfast dedication to leading State and nationally significant research and innovation activities to deliver important practical outcomes for the grains industry and strengthen the reputation of the department and the State government was a hallmark of his career."
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