(L–R) Distinguished Professor Michelle Leishman, School of Natural Sciences; The Honourable Alister Henskens MP, Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology
Distinguished Professor Michelle Leishman’s groundbreaking research into invasive plants and pathogens, climate change impacts and adaptation and urban greening received the Excellence in Biological Sciences (Ecological, environmental, agricultural and organismal) Award at this year’s NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science and Engineering.
The Premier’s Prizes recognise excellence in science and engineering and reward leading researchers for innovative work that generates economic, environmental, health, social and technological benefits for New South Wales.
Leishman, from the School of Natural Sciences, leads the Smart Green Cities collaborative research hub at Macquarie. Her research has been translated into policy advice for practitioners and government, and includes the development of online tools for weed management, climate change adaptation and climate-smart species selection for urban greening. She has worked with industry to develop the Gardening Responsibly certification scheme, a national program to promote low invasion-risk plants for the horticultural trade.
Leishman, who is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales, also received the NSW Royal Society 2020 Clarke Medal for Botany and was named the 2021 Eminent Ecologist Award Winner by the Journal of Ecology. She has attracted more than $22 million in research funding and has over 190 publications, attracting 18,800 citations, with an h-index of 57. Her publications have appeared in high impact journals, including Nature and Science.
A trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and Chair of the Australian Institute of Botanical Science Advisory Council, she is also on the Board of Bush Heritage Australia and an elected council member of the Australian Flora Foundation.
Leishman says that receiving this honour highlights the significance of the research she does on threats to biodiversity including climate change and invasive plants and pathogens.
“I am very honoured to receive this award and to be among so many other scientists and engineers recognised for their work. The NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science and Engineering are fantastic recognition of the exciting and important research done across a range of fields in science and engineering.”