The first ever agricultural scientist to be awarded the Western Australian Scientist of the Year, professor Kadambot Siddique received the honour at the Premier's Science Awards on Monday.
Now in its 22nd year, the Premier's Science Awards recognises and celebrates the outstanding scientific research and engagement taking place in Western Australia.
This year, 26 WA scientists were named finalists across six categories.
The achievement is not only monumental for professor Siddique, who walked away with a plaque and $50,000, but also for the agricultural industry - which often gets overlooked in favour of medicine.
The award was presented to professor Siddique on Monday night and recognised his 41 years at The University of Western Australia (UWA) including his PhD, which has been dedicated to agricultural research.
Having been named a finalist for the top award two years in a row, professor Siddique said the title was a humbling and life-defining honour that he dedicated to his family in Perth and India.
"It is momentous times such as these that inspire us to reflect on our life's journey," professor Siddique
"My story in Western Australia began in 1981 when my wife Almaz and I moved here from our home in Kerala to embark on my PhD at UWA."
While professor Siddique didn't do his work for awards, he was very happy to have received such a high honour.
"It's a great honour and privilege because you don't work for awards, you just continue to do the best," he said.
Geophysicists, plant scientists and medical scientists have received this award before, but this is the first time an agricultural scientist has won the award.
Professor Siddique believed it was fantastic that agriculture was being recognised.
"It is so important because it shines the light to the importance of agriculture, food and global food security, and the role of agriculture and food in this State and country," he said.
Professor Siddique has an impressive resume and has done a lot for the agricultural industry during his time through his research in crop science, agronomy and farming systems.
His achievements include being one of the pioneers of the Growers Group Alliance, back in 2000, and helping cement UWA as the leading agricultural university in Australia - and the world.
Professor Siddique work has contributed to leaps and bounds in the grains and pulses industry, especially chickpeas.
He has worked closely with industry to significantly improve cereal and grain legume production in dryland environments, with his leadership and collaboration resulting in new crop varieties and agronomic packages for graingrowers.
Professor Siddique's PhD, completed at UWA more than 30 years ago, was the first thesis on chickpeas produced in Australia.
One of his chickpea varieties, called Kimberely Large, continues to be grown in the Ord River area and brings in about $4.6 million each year since its release in 2005.
This is significant, as often pulse varieties can become obsolete over time as new varieties are introduced to the market.
"My PhD was the first in this country on chickpea - and now, Australia has a major pulse exporting industry," he said.
"How we have grown."
Along with being the head of UWA's agriculture department, professor Siddique gives back to the wider agricultural community by sharing his knowledge around the world and to up-and-coming PhD students.
He is a highly cited researcher, and was designated a special ambassador for pulses in 2016 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The Premier Science Award said that professor Siddique is an "outstanding ambassador" for WA, promoting sustainable agriculture and addressing global food security.
"His world-class research is evident through numerous publications, fellowships, awards and numerous highly cited papers," they said.
This week he is flying to Spain to give a keynote presentation about understanding and enhancing legume crop tolerance to abiotic stresses, and has recently returned from a conference in Canberra.
He hoped the award would inspire young people to pursue agricultural research or science as a career, and consider the industry as an option.
"My plan is to help lead and inspire young people, so that there are a lot of young researchers and agronomists out there in the field," professor Siddique said.
Professor Siddique said he was especially thankful to his expansive network of colleagues, PhD and Master's students, and research collaborators at UWA and universities and research institutions across WA, Australia, and the world especially in China and India.
"I am fortunate to work in an environment surrounded by very clever, passionate people at UWA," he said.
"I am indebted to the agriculture and food industry and research community for their support and research funding over the decades.
"It is also crucial that I acknowledge my close working relationship with innovative WA farmers, who I have learned so much from and without whom I would certainly not be standing here tonight."
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