Michael Friend takes on top role at Graham Centre

Professor Michael Friend

Professor Michael Friend

A GROUP which provides research results for the agricultural sector has a new leader.

The Graham Centre in Wagga – a collaboration between Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries – focuses on the rural industry.

The body has a reputation for delivering grassroots information which ultimately boosts profits at the farm gate.

Professor Michael Friend will take up the reins as director of the organisation after former leader Dierdre Lemerle stepped down earlier this year.

Professor Friend, from Wagga, has published more than 60 articles and secured about $3 million in external competitive grants in his former role at CSU. Late last year, Professor Friend was the program leader for a research project named as a finalist for the prestigious Australian Museum's Eureka Prize for Sustainable Agriculture. He joined CSU in 2003 as a lecturer in the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences in Wagga.

Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Mary Kelly said the appointment signalled a strong future for the Graham Centre.

"Under his leadership and in collaboration with the NSW DPI, the Centre will continue to address vital research challenges to advance cropping, livestock and systems integration in our region, nationally and internationally,” she said. Meanwhile, Professor Lemerle was the Graham Centre director since its inception 10 years ago.

Professor Lemerle said it’s an exciting time for agricultural research and emphasised the importance of communication throughout the entire chain.

"There's a great team of scientists at the Graham Centre and we have developed partnerships with farming systems groups to ensure that our research is needs driven," she said earlier this year.

Professor Lemerle's research included non-chemical weed management and increasing crop competitiveness with weeds. 

She was awarded the Council of Australian Weed Science Societies Medal for Excellence in Weed Science in 1998, and the CSU Vice-Chancellors Award for Research Excellence to Allelopathy Research Group 2000. 

Professor Lemerle said the clean and green reputation of produce grown in the Murray-Darling Basin cannot be understated.

“We are at a huge advantage here just because of our regional location,” she said.