Prof Mike Wingfield, Director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria, has recently been awarded the prestigious Johanna Westerdijk Award by the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS) Fungal Biodiversity Centre. This Award is made on special occasions to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the culture collection of the CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre, marking a distinguished career in mycology.
The CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre is an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), situated in Utrecht. It maintains a world-renowned collection of living filamentous fungi, yeasts and bacteria. The Institute’s research programmes principally focus on the taxonomy and evolution of fungi as well as on functional aspects of fungal biology and ecology, increasingly making use of molecular and genomics approaches.
Prof Wingfield is an internationally renowned researcher and was also recently selected to receive honorary doctorates from the University of British Columbia (Canada) and North Carolina State University (USA). These degrees will officially be awarded at graduation ceremonies of the two universities in November 2012 and May 2013 respectively.
He has published widely on the topic of tree health in more than 600 research papers, five books and in numerous prestigious invited presentations globally. He has served in many distinguished positions and has received numerous awards and honours for contributions to education, research and industry in South Africa and elsewhere in the world. Based on these contributions he has been elected as a fellow of scientific societies including the Royal Society of South Africa, Academy of Sciences of South Africa, the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology and the American Phytopathological Society. He is one of the few honorary members of the Mycological Society of America.
He has conducted research on tree pests and pathogens, especially concerning their global movement, for more than thirty years. His highly cited research in this field, conducted in many different countries of the world, has led to the discovery of some of the most important pathogens of trees grown commercially in plantations. It has also elucidated elements of the biology and global movement of many of the most important pests and pathogens of trees, substantially contributing to new management options and solutions to problems, thereby reducing losses to industry. Based on his research reputation, he has been a long term advisor of many major forestry corporations globally.
Story by Martie Meyer, University of Pretoria-Newsroom