The University of New England and NSW Department for Primary Industries have appointed Dr Rob Banks as the new Director of the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) based in Armidale.
He succeeds Dr Hans Graser, who retired at the end of 2012.
A PhD graduate of UNE, Dr Banks has had a long history in the genetic improvement of Australia's extensive cattle and sheep industries. He has worked for Meat and Livestock Australia and its predecessor, the Meat Research Corporation for the past 25 years, most recently as R&D manager for MLA’s Southern Australia program.
In the late 1980s he led the development of the genetic evaluation system for the Australian Meat Sheep industry.
AGBU, a joint venture between the DPI and University of New England, is a world leader in R&D for genetic evaluation systems for cattle and sheep.
Dr Phil Wright, NSW DPI's chief scientific officer said Dr Banks had an excellent reputation across Australia's cattle and sheep industries as a genetic innovator.
“His technical and communication skills will ensure AGBU continues to be the leading group for genetic evaluation in Australia and internationally,” Dr Wright said.
UNE's Deputy Vice?Chancellor, Research, Professor Annabelle Duncan said Dr Banks would continue the role of applying the science of genetics to Australia’s livestock industries.
“I would also like to pay tribute to outgoing AGBU director, Dr Hans Graser, who has made an enormous contribution in the field,” she said.
Dr Banks said he was looking forward to ensuring that Australia’s cattle and sheep industries took full advantage of the genomics revolution.
“There will be significant challenges around ensuring that breeders, commercial producers and the community as a whole can obtain the full benefits of genomics R&D, and this area will be a key focus for me,” he said.