The former chief executive officer of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal.
Emeritus Professor James Baber Rowe was announced as a recipient of the Queen's Birthday Honour for his service to science as a researcher and educator.
Mr Rowe said he was surprised and delighted by the announcement.
"It's a very significant award, and I'm really pleased - it's quite something. I have no idea who nominated me, and that makes it even more of an honour - I'm thrilled about it."
After coming to Australia from Johannesburg, South Africa in 1970 to study rural science at the University of New England under ag science system pioneer Bill McClymont, Mr Rowe has worked in a variety of roles both here and overseas throughout his long career, and since his retirement from academia in 2020.
"My real interest is getting large collaborative projects together," he said.
"That is really the key to scientific success. In the area of agriculture, you deal with complex problems, and you really don't solve them by working on your own.
"That is what I've been about for a long time. It's complicated stuff - you need to pull in expertise and make sure people work together."
There is no silver bullet when you are trying to understand a complex system and find a solution to it, Mr Rowe said.
"I was very fortunate to be exposed to Bill McClymont's approach back in the '70s, and that laid the foundation for my work, I guess," he said.
"I've always been fortunate to work with groups of really smart researchers and educators both nationally and internationally, and I'm always looking for the teamwork."
"Identifying real-world problems and opportunities and applying the best science you can has always been a good mix for me."
While he has worked on many projects during his career, Mr Rowe said it is the achievements of the CRC of which he is most proud.
"The ultimate team collaboration in my career was leading the CRC," he said.
"It was a combined effect of leading 40 organisations that included private sector, industry bodies, researchers and universities."
The CRC was established with backing from CSIRO and the federal government to transform the Australian sheep industry at a time when prices for meat and wool had plummeted.
"To bring that group together and keep them focused on goals was terrific, and we delivered some innovations and transformations during those 20 years."
Researchers worked out how to produce wool and meat from the same animals; improved sheep using genomics and data technology; then gave their information to the industry.
"When you have any innovation, you need to consolidate it with education and training, and with the CRC, we did a considerable amount of undergraduate training, and these courses are still being taught today.
"We also had 81 students with their research and training embedded in the sheep and cattle industry, and they are now becoming leaders in their own right.
"That is just wonderful to see that happening.
"That combination of research, delivering innovation and outcomes which are of national significance and following up with some education that underpins it all has been a really good run."
Mr Rowe also acknowledged the vital role the support of his wife and children played in his success.
"Particularly their feedback around the dining table," he laughed.
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