Distinguished Professor/Dancer

Graham Farquhar

Distinguished Professor Graham Farquhar was awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in 2015, named Senior Australian of the Year in 2017 and was also the first Australian to win a Kyoto Prize—an equivalent to the Nobel Prize, for his work in plant biophysics and photosynthesis. He has over 300 research publications and is a leading Australian Citation Laureate.

Surprisingly, he is also a classically trained ballet dancer and established the New University Dance Ensemble (NUDE) in 1972. NUDE has evolved over the years to become the Canberra Dance Theatre, of which he is now a patron.

Torn between his love for science and dance, Graham found that living and working in Canberra allowed him to pursue both.

“When I came back to Canberra to start my PhD I became involved in ballet and helped start a group called NUDE—National University Dance Ensemble. So I led this parallel life of dance and environmental biology, and that continued for a long time.

The great advantage of being a researcher in Canberra is that the strong connections between the Australian National University, the CSIRO and the Government open up unique opportunities. As a result, I’ve been able to pursue areas that I feel passionate about including involvement with the International Panel of Climate Change, food security and forestry.

Whilst I work in Canberra, I live just outside in Burra which allows me to enjoy the best of both worlds; the peaceful tranquillity of a rural community, with the cosmopolitan advantages of a big city—including pursuing my love for dance.”


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Graham Farquhar