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1989 …2023

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Personal profile

Professor Gurr is well known internationally for his work on applied insect ecology and developing ecologically-based strategies to harmonise agriculture with the environment. Following doctoral training at Imperial College and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge, his work over the last three decades has spanned biological control of insect pests, plant defence, insect-vectored plant pathogens, chemical and molecular ecology. His chief contribution has been to develop strategies for promoting the activity of natural enemies of pests and simultaneously delivering other ecosystem services that build resilience in farming systems. These methods are used on increasing numbers of farms in Australia and overseas. In China, for example, the use of companion crops beside rice crops to attract beneficial insects that control pests has become nationally-recommended policy. Reflecting the real-world impact of his research, he won Engagement Australia’s excellence award for Outstanding Research Engagement in 2020. Such work has been the subject of two of the three books for which he was senior editor and many of his more than 200 scientific papers that include Nature Plants, Nature Genetics, Nature Communications, PNAS and Annual Review of Entomology. Collectively, these papers have been cited over eight thousand times, giving him an H-index of 45 and field-weighted citation impact 62% higher than global average. For the last two years he has been named as the nation’s top researcher for ‘insects and arthropods’ in The Australian special reports. His work has been supported by multiple grants from the Australian Research Council and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, as well as a range of rural research and development corporations, CRCs and international donors such as the McKnight Foundation. Awarded research funding has a combined value of close to $20 million. He has also researched and published in the field of student supervision and successfully completed 42 PhD and MPhil students. Professor Gurr has collaborated widely in Australia and overseas and much of his work has been in developing country agriculture. SciVal reports that over 91% of his publications are co-authored with international collaborators. He has held faculty positions at Melbourne, New England, Sydney and Charles Sturt as well as visiting professor positions at Sydney, Lincoln University in New Zealand, Zhejiang University and Fujian Agriculture & Forestry University in China. His work in China was supported by a prestigious 'Thousand Talents' fellowship. He is currently President of the International Organisation for Biological Control (Asia Pacific) and Fellow of the Royal Society NSW and the Royal Entomologically Society.

Research Interests

  • Applied insect-plant ecology
  • Biological control of pests
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Insect vector-phytoplasma-plant interactions
  • Developing country cropping systems

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

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