ACIAR John Allwright Fellow Dr Marcal Gusmao (2nd from left), the University of Western Australia's first Timor-Leste PhD graduate, recently completed his doctorate in agricultural science on a legume crop which tolerates drought and waterlogging.
Marcal will use the knowledge he gained to continue working on improving crop yields and training agricultural science graduates at the National University of Timor-Leste, where he is also working for a United Nations development program on climate change.
UWA is also involved in Seeds of Life, a major program alleviating hunger in Timor-Leste by increasing production of staple food crops. UWA Winthrop Professor Kadambot Siddique, encouraged Marcal to apply for a John Allwright Fellowship after meeting him in Timor-Leste in 2006.
Marcal's research involved assessing grass pea, which, unlike other legumes, produces a respectable seed-yield under stress. He presented his findings at international food legumes conferences in Turkey and Syria, thanks to funding from ACIAR and a UWA.
“Dr Gusmao has every reason to be very proud of himself. There is no doubt in my mind he will make a valuable contribution to achieving food security in Timor-Leste and will serve as an inspiration to other bright students in his country to choose agricultural studies as a career path which is rewarding on both on a personal and national level,” said Professor Siddique.