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Perth Scientist Honoured in London

Professor Kingsley Dixon’s contribution to research on native plants and the regeneration of ecosystems was recognised on 25 May 2013 in London when he was awarded the Linnean Medal. It is only the second time an Australian has won the prestigious Linnean Medal.

The Linnean Society of London, the world’s oldest and most prestigious biological society, presented Professor Dixon with the medal at its Anniversary meeting.

Professor Dixon is the Director (Science) at the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (BGPA), in Western Australia. He is also a visiting Professor at the University of Western Australia’s School of Plant Biology. At BGPA he oversees a team of 44 scientific staff, including 14 PhD students from UWA, Curtin, Murdoch and Edith Cowan Universities.

His leading work, which included scientific teams from UWA and Murdoch University, resulted in the discovery of a chemical in smoke which causes the germination of many native plants. This research has greatly changed the way mining restoration and land conservation is undertaken. Professor Dixon’s work has also led to a greater understanding of why diseases migrate from agricultural crops to native plants.

Professor Dixon is working with the science team and others from Kings Park on a two year project for the Saudi Arabian Government, near Riyadh the capital city, which involves planting more than 48,000 seedlings to test approaches to desert restoration. The project’s aim is to halt the deterioration of the ecosystem, enhance biodiversity and to enable local fauna to flourish as well as improve air quality in the capital.

For Professor Dixon, the award comes after 30 years of doing what he loves and having the chance to work alongside and mentor a number of outstanding young scientists.

“I believe that Western Australia has an extraordinary landscape and a fantastic array of native species – and every scientist has the opportunity to build a great career working in our state. I hope that more young people who share my passion for biology will choose to develop their careers here, safe in the knowledge that our work can have a global impact,” Dixon said.