Cairns, Queensland – Dedicated researchers Ms Brenda Coutts, from Western Australia, and Professor Salah Sukkarieh, from New South Wales, have been declared joint winners of the Bayer CropScience Researcher of the Year Award at the AUSVEG National Awards for Excellence in Cairns.

AUSVEG CEO Mr Richard Mulcahy congratulated the pair on their achievements, during a Gala Dinner event at the Cairns Convention and Exhibition centre on June 21.

“Professor Sukkarieh has been awarded for his work in horticultural automation and the recently-revealed ‘ladybird’ intelligent farm robot, an automaton that has the potential to revolutionise horticulture,” said Mr Mulcahy.

“Ms Coutts, a plant virologist from the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia, is being recognised for her active involvement in a number of industry research and development workshops for both the Australian vegetable and potato industries, and a tireless commitment to promoting horticultural R&D to levy payers.”

“Ms Coutts has presented at potato R&D workshops held in Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, where she has discussed the practical outcomes of a 12-month research project she led on Potato virus Y.”

AUSVEG is the leading horticultural body representing Australia’s 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.

Proudly sponsored by Bayer CropScience, the Researcher of the Year Award recognises a researcher who has a track record of research or extension work that has advanced the industry and offered long-term benefits.

Researchers must also have actively communicated research outcomes, encouraged uptake on-farm, and have contributed research or extension work that advances the reputation of Australian science internationally.

“Professor Sukkarieh and Ms Brenda Coutts both have a track record of research projects which have significantly advanced the industry, and have promoted their ideas extensively throughout the industry,” said Mr Mulcahy.

The AUSVEG National Convention is the largest event in Australian horticulture, making the Awards for Excellence a highlight of the industry’s calendar.

“These awards celebrate those who lead by example in the Australian horticulture industry – they are the heroes whose passions are too often unrecognised by those outside the Australian vegetable growing community,” said Mr Mulcahy.

For photographs, or to request an interview with award winners, please make contact with the AUSVEG representative below.

MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew MacDonald, Spokesperson, AUSVEG Phone: (03) 9882 0277 | Mobile: 0406 836 330 | E-mail: