The Australian National University
Emeritus Faculty Member

Bob Clements

Bob Clements is an agricultural scientist, experienced in research management in Australia and internationally. He began his career as a farmer in the Cowra district (NSW, Australia) before attending the University of New England (Armidale) where he graduated with a degree in Rural Science in 1964.  He then joined CSIRO Plant Industry, where he undertook research on plant breeding and on establishment of pasture plants by aerial sowing.  In 1968, he joined the Agronomy Department at Massey University, New Zealand, where he taught plant breeding and pasture agronomy.  He obtained a PhD degree from Massey University in 1971. 

In 1973 he joined the CSIRO Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures as a plant breeder, working on forage plants.  With co-workers, he produced new cultivars of lucerne and Centrosema (a tropical legume genus).  He also undertook pioneering research on plant adaptation and genetic diversity.  In 1983, after a period as a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University he changed his research field and commenced new work on beef cattle production, including studies on grazing behaviour, leading to new ideas about the sustainability of improved pastures based on twining tropical legumes.  He became Chief of the Division in 1988.  In 1995 he left CSIRO to become Director of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), where he championed the need to deliver benefits from international agricultural research.  After completing a seven-year term as Director of ACIAR, he joined the Crawford Fund as Executive Director from August 2002 – February 2008.  He was an adjunct professor at the University of Queensland (2002-08) and a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne (2003-08). 

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including Fellowships of the Tropical Grasslands Society and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and was awarded the Farrer Memorial Medal in 2004 and a Chinese National Friendship Award in 2005.  He won the inaugural Australian sugar industry R&D Service Award in 1998, and chaired the Board of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology from 2003-2010. He was previously the Chairman of the Continuing Committee of the International Grassland Congress, and was the President of the Organising Committee of the 4th International Crop Science Congress (Brisbane, 2004).  In 2004, he was appointed an Officer (AO) in the Order of Australia. He is presently a member of the Emeritus Faculty at the Australian National University.

Recent Activities

I have been a member of three CRC Boards (1992-95 and 2003-10 – chair of the latter), a Visitor to three CRCs (1996-2003), a member of review teams for six CRCs (1995-2004), assessor of numerous proposals (maybe ten?) for new CRCs, and the facilitator of a strategic planning workshop for yet another CRC (2003).

I am currently involved with the ANU as a member of the Core Team promoting the ANU Photosynthesis Initiative.  This is a group set up by Mick Cardew-Hall (PVC [Innovation and Advancement]) and its purpose is to guide the development of ANU’s world-class research on enhancement and modification of photosynthesis in plants so as to deliver benefits in crop production.

I am an ADB Editorial Fellow in the History Department at ANU.  I am also a member of the ANU Emeritus Faculty’s East Coast Project.

Bob Clements - 26/09/2011