Australian Embassy

Professor Graham Farquhar AO first Australian to win Japan's Kyoto Prize

16 June 2017


Australian Ambassador Richard Court AC welcomed today's announcement that Dr Graham Farquhar AO, Australian National University, has been awarded the Kyoto Prize, Japan’s highest private award for global achievement. Dr Farquhar is the first Australian to win this prestigious international award.

Dr Farquhar was awarded the prize for his work in "Development of Process-based Models of Photosynthesis and Their Contributions to the Science of Global Environmental Changes"

"Dr Farquhar is one of Australia's most eminent and ground-breaking scientists, responsible for re-shaping our understanding of photosynthesis, the very basis of life on earth," Mr Court said.

“I extend my whole-hearted congratulations to Dr Farquhar and the other winners. I extend my thanks also to the Inamori Foundation for their commitment to recognising eminent leaders such as Dr Farquhar who have extended the frontiers of our knowledge.”

ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC congratulated Dr Farquhar on the latest honour.

“This award acknowledges Graham’s crucial work and global leadership to help feed the world in a changing climate,” Professor Schmidt said.

“I’m proud that we have a person of Graham’s calibre working at ANU, tackling some of the most profound challenges facing humanity and the environment.”  

Australia has a proud history of scientific achievement. Australian science has changed lives around the world, from William Farrer’s ‘Federation’ wheat strain, to Howard Florey’s work to make penicillin a practical medical treatment, to Graeme Clarke’s development of the cochlear implant, Fiona Stanley’s work in child health and the CSIRO’s invention of WiFi technology. Australia’s dozen Nobel Prize winners in the sciences are a testament to the impact and quality of Australian science.

Australia and Japan share a long history of high-quality research cooperation which brings significant social and economic benefits to both nations. We have had a science cooperation treaty in place since 1980 and bilateral researcher exchange programs since the late 1970s. Research collaboration (as measured by co-authored publications) has more than doubled over the last decade. The main areas of collaboration are medical science, physics/astronomy, chemistry, geosciences and plant/animal sciences. Studies have shown that Australia-Japan collaboration consistently  improves research impact, with the average citation impact of Australia-Japan joint publications in all fields being higher than the average citation impact of publications produced by either country individually.

Australia-Japan research collaboration is underpinned by many strong university-to-university partnerships (560 and increasing in recent years) and increasing two-way student mobility. In January 2017, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of a new memorandum of cooperation on innovation, to drive stronger collaboration in areas of mutual national priority.

The Kyoto Prize is an international prize granted to "those who have contributed significantly to the scientific, cultural, and spiritual betterment of mankind." The award is granted annually in each of three categories: Advanced Technology, Basic Sciences, and Arts and Philosophy.

Biography (courtesy of the Australian National University)

Distinguished Professor Graham Farquhar AO, FAA, FRS, NAS has undertaken and led research across a broad range of fields and scales, in terms of integration of photosynthesis with CO2 and water use of plants, stomatal physiology, isotopic composition of plants and global change. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and of the Royal Society and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences. He has over 300 research publications and is a leading Australian Citation Laureate. Graham was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in 2015.

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