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25 November 2020 News Release

Professor Toby Walsh and Dr TJ Higgins from Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

CSIRO Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley congratulated the pair on their recognition.

"I congratulate Toby and TJ on being internationally recognised for the quality and impact of their research, adding to CSIRO's more than 100 years at the forefront of global scientific excellence," Dr Foley said.

"Science at CSIRO is inherently collaborative, and this honour from our colleagues in the US recognises the importance of working with the best around the world to solve the planet's greatest challenges through innovative science and technology."

Professor Walsh has been recognised for his leadership and significant contributions to automated deduction, constraint programming, and fairness in artificial intelligence.

Professor Walsh's work in AI has focused on enabling computers to do tasks that require intelligence, ranging from how to route trucks more efficiently, to how to best allocate donated kidneys to patients.

"It is a wonderful accolade to join some of the best scientists around the world as a Fellow of AAAS," Professor Walsh said.

"I especially value the work of AAAS in promoting evidence-based policy, as well as in encouraging diversity and inclusion in science.

"I would also like to acknowledge the exceptional colleagues at CSIRO's Data61 and other research labs around the world, with whom I have had the privilege to work alongside."

Dr Higgins has spent the latter part of his career working with an international team of researchers to protect cowpeas from the damaging legume pod-borer.

Cowpeas or black-eyed peas are a major source of protein for 200 million people in West Africa, sometimes referred to as 'poor-man's meat'.

Through breeding the Bt gene into cowpea, Dr Higgins and his African colleagues have given the plant its own built in insect protection. In late 2019 the first insect-resistant cowpea variety was approved in Africa.

"This is a great honour from my US colleagues and recognises our combined efforts with the African Agricultural Technology Foundation to improve food security among some of the world's poorest farmers," Dr Higgins said.

A total of 489 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS in 2020 because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. They will be formally inducted at a ceremony in early 2021.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874.

Images

TJ Higgins (right) doing field work with colleagues in Africa
Professor Toby Walsh. Credit: TU Berlin/Press/Christian Kielmann ©  TU Berlin/ Christian Kielmann

Background information

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine; Science Signaling; a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances; Science Immunology; and Science Robotics. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes more than 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The nonprofit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For additional information about AAAS, see www.aaas.org.

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