Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences appoints new Heads of School

The Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences has appointed Professors Ted Whittem and Mohan Singh to lead the Melbourne Veterinary School (MVS) and School of Agriculture and Food (SAF), respectively.

Following extensive consultation with staff, the Faculty implemented a new two-School structure at the start of 2017. This will provide site and subject devolved management, delegation of responsibilities and improved coordination between research, teaching and engagement across the Faculty.

Professor John Fazakerley, Dean of the Faculty, congratulated the new Heads of School and thanked all staff who provided their views or helped establish the new structure.

“Agriculture, food and veterinary sciences have key roles to play in the global challenges of food security and human and animal health,” he said.

“After its formation from the University’s veterinary, agricultural and food science departments in 2014, only minimal organisational changes were made to the organisational structure of the combined Faculty. These new changes will strengthen our capability to contribute, through teaching, research and engagement, to the food and health challenges of the twenty-first century.

“Professors Whittem and Singh will now appoint school leadership teams to manage and optimise efficiency and effectiveness of activities across the Faculty’s facilities at Parkville, Werribee and Dookie.”

The Heads of School will report to the Dean and will be supported by Deputy Heads and Directors.

Professor Mohan Singh, Head of School, School of Agriculture and Food

Professor Mohan Singh

Professor Singh joined the University in December 1981 as the University of Melbourne research fellow. His research interests include plant reproductive biology and agricultural biotechnology, crop genetics and genomics and molecular immunology of pollen allergens.

His research efforts have generated a substantial portfolio of intellectual property, representing a significant contribution to Australian competitiveness in biotechnology.

His work has been recognised with the Australian Academy of Sciences Frederick White Prize and the CSIRO Medal for Research Achievements. He has published more than 160 peer-reviewed research articles, 46 book chapters and is the main inventor on 34 patent families.

Professor Singh said the new Faculty structure will help the University to raise its national profile in the agricultural and food sciences in 2017.

“There is a growing realisation in Australia that both agriculture and food science disciplines have pivotal roles to play in addressing many of the most pressing challenges facing humanity this century,” Professor Singh said.

“This reinforces why our new School of Agriculture and Food has potential to be recognised as a national leader on these issues.”

Professor Ted Whittem, Head of School, Melbourne Veterinary School

Professor Ted Whittem

Professor Whittem joined the University’s Faculty of Veterinary Science in 2008 from Jurox, a major veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer where he was Head of Research and Development.

At the University he has led veterinary clinical training and worked with other faculties and departments on research strategy and infrastructure including as Chairman of the Biomedical Imaging Group, which secured government funding totalling $15 million for research infrastructure.

He is also the co-inventor on 11 patent families, has brought more than 30 products to the market and has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers.

Professor Whittem said he appreciated the support he had received since the announcement.

“We have closed out a busy 2016 punctuated by many successes generated by the enthusiasm and dedication of our staff,” he said.

“This year we will cement together the Melbourne Veterinary School. It will be a team effort, based on really solid and historical foundations, based on real investment by the University in new facilities, and most of all based on our teamwork.”

Story and photos by Stuart Winthrope.