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Roy Andrew Lawrie

Roy Andrew Lawrie

Doctor of Science (honoris causa)


Citation delivered by Professor John Patterson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Operations) of the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Row Andrew Lawrie to the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa).

Chancellor, I present Roy Andrew Lawrie.

Roy Lawrie has dedicated himself to the application of science for the public good. His contribution is more than a successful career; it stretches to a lifetime seeking to understand and protect the complex ecosystems of our continent. This is indeed a timely award to a scientist who made an outstanding contribution to our knowledge of the land.

Born in North Sydney in 1949, Roy Lawrie spent his school holidays on farms in rural New South Wales, thus beginning his understanding of the critical part “the soil” plays in the lives and livelihood of agricultural Australia. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science from Sydney University in 1971, he worked initially as an analytical chemist for the NSW Department of Mines but soon moved to where his real interests lay, becoming a soil scientist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Today he is the state’s Senior Soil Scientist.

Roy began his career testing soil fertility on the coasts and tablelands of NSW before mapping the soils of the Riverina and Tamworth. In the late 1970s, with soil surveyor Alec Riddler, he devised a five class system for assessing the suitability of soils for agriculture. It became the standard reference for soil assessment.

Roy Lawrie has made an outstanding contribution to soil knowledge, policy and education in Australia. His advice has been sought by many government departments and councils on a vast range of soil issues ranging from the soil fertility assessment and management to the impact of acid sulphate soils on waterways and soil archaeology. He is Australia’s leading expert on assessing the impact of European settlement on soils in the Sydney region. Roy’s work is regarded as critical in the development of rigorous agricultural and environmental management. Acknowledged by his peers as the national authority on soil surveys, he has a rare ability to read the landscape.

Roy Lawrie’s publication record is extensive, varied and of high quality. He has also taken a leadership role with the Australian Society of Soil Science and an active part in the supervision of Australian postgraduate students, especially in the specialised field of advanced soil science techniques. His mentoring and supervision of honours and postgraduate students at this University has raised the quality and scope of their research. He has been an outstanding contributor and the students speak of him not just warmly but as a shining light.

Roy Lawrie is a modest man of outstanding intellect and achievement. His contribution is of critical importance today when the landscapes he sought to protect are increasingly threatened. Roy’s methods are those of rigorous enquiry and deduction; his career exemplifies the scientific method at work. At the same time, Roy Lawrie is admired by his colleagues and students as a person of generous spirit with a great capacity for fellowship. He is a true contributor to that community of scholars which is at the heart of any university. Roy has enriched scholarship and research at this University and in this country and he has greatly added to the collaborative spirit with which it is pursued.

Chancellor it is my great honour to present Roy Andrew Lawrie with the award Doctor of Science honoris causa.

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