ANU awards inaugural Ralph Slatyer Medal for biological research

21 February 2017

Ralph Slatyer was a really influential researcher in Australian ecology.

The Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Biology has awarded the inaugural Ralph Slatyer Medal for outstanding biological research to Professor Mark Westoby from Macquarie University.

The medal commemorates the late Emeritus Professor Ralph Slatyer, who was a distinguished scientist, a former Director of the Research School of Biological Sciences at ANU and the first Chief Scientist of Australia.

Professor Westoby said he was deeply honoured to win the inaugural medal for his life's work to research ecology and evolution, mainly in plants.

"Ralph Slatyer was a really influential researcher in Australian ecology," Professor Westoby said. "His ideas shaped the way we now think about landscapes and how plants operate in them.

"My lab's research is built on foundations laid by Professor Slatyer a generation earlier. We aim to understand the variety of ecological lifestyles across plants, and to set Australian ecosystems in a world context."

Director of the ANU Research School of Biology Professor Allen Rodrigo said it was fitting that the first Ralph Slatyer Medal was being presented to an ecologist following in the footsteps of Professor Slatyer.

"Mark Westoby is one of Australia's most distinguished ecologists, and richly deserving of this award," Professor Rodrigo.

"It could not be more appropriate that the first Ralph Slatyer Medal be awarded this year, on our 50th anniversary. Professor Slatyer's tenure at the ANU is particularly apt, because he became one of the Foundation Professors of the new Research School of Biological Sciences at the ANU 50 years ago."

The Ralph Slatyer Medal will be awarded annually to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to biological research. The awardee must be an Australian citizen or resident, or their research must be relevant to Australia.

The medal will be presented at a special ceremony at ANU on Wednesday 15 March 2017, when Professor Westoby will give a public lecture on his work.