ROBSON AO, Cit WA Alan David
Professor Alan Robson is recognised internationally for his research on the mineral nutrition of plants and soil fertility. All of this work was done in the agricultural regions of Western Australia.
His broad scientific interests and expertise ranged from farmer’s fields to glasshouses, to laboratories, illuminating both practical and theoretical problems. He enthusiastically investigated the nutrition of agricultural plants in the highly weathered soils of the south-west and developed plant diagnostic tests for nutrient disorders, both deficiencies and toxicities, in cereals, and grain and pasture legumes. In 1992 he became the first director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Legumes in Mediterranean Agriculture (CLIMA). He was a popular teacher and collaborator, and a lucid speaker to farmer groups and advisors with an encyclopaedic understanding of the broad picture in agriculture. These qualities led to his heading or being an influential member of almost all of the prominent plant- and soil-based committees in the State and Nation at one stage or another. These included being the chair of the federal Grain Legumes Research Council.
Later life drew him into education when he moved from being Dean of Agriculture at UWA in 1992 to deputy Vice Chancellor 1993-2004 and Vice Chancellor 2004-2012. Despite the rigours of this, he maintained his interest in and dedication to agriculture and remains on many committees associated with the industry he has served so successfully.
Portrait by Drewfus Gates