Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

In the Limelight: Pieter-Willem Hendriks

Supervisors: Professor Leslie Weston Charles Sturt University, Dr Greg Rebetzke CSIRO

Thesis title: ‘The role of root architecture and associated rhizosphere interactions in breeding for weed competitive wheat cultivars’

Funding body: Part of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) project called ‘Breeding Weed Competitive Wheats’

Career and studies till now:

Pieter-Willem Hendriks I attended primary school in the Netherlands where I was born. When I was 12 we sold our farm in the Netherlands and moved to France where I attended high school and university. First in Le Chatelet en Berry and St Amand Md in the Cher the Centre of France, then in Tours for a Bachelor in Biology, and finally at the National Agricultural Institution of Higher Education (ENESAD) of Dijon where I got my Masters in Agricultural Engineering. During the last two years of my study I came to Australia twice for internships at CSIRO. I studied reduced tillering in wheat.

After my Masters I went back to take over the family farm from my parents. We were producing cropping, pigs and some cattle. I increased the cattle herd and also started free range pig breeding. I sold my own products to the supermarkets, butchers and clients ‘from stable to table’. After 14 years of doing this I got the opportunity to pick up my studies and start a PhD with Charles Sturt University and CSIRO on competitive wheat.

Currently studying: I am studying the impact of high vigour on the competitiveness of wheat against weeds. I want to see what the impact of high vigour above-ground has on the below-ground development and this interference with the below-ground competitiveness traits.

Research Interests:

Wheat physiology, the roots and the rhizosphere, metabolomics

A typical day for me includes...

Field work, lab or glasshouse work, reading and writing but also interacting with colleagues over a nice flat white or a good beer.

My main project at the moment is...

I am busy in the field sampling my experiments at the Graham Centre field site and in Canberra. After running some dummy tests I am also setting up my first controlled environment experiments.

My favourite part of my studies is...

There are so many things I like. I guess I love my curiosity to be thrilled. The learning, the reading, the interaction with renowned scientists are all so stimulating. I really enjoy being in the field.

When I am not studying...

I like first of all to be with my family, I am married and have three beautiful daughters aged 10, 8 and 3 years old. I like to go for a jog with friends. I love reading books and prefer historical novels. I am also planning to do some home brewing. I also like going to a Brumbies’ game

When I am driving, I like to listen to...

I am listening to music all the time. At home, at work and when I am driving. I even listen to music when studying - it got me in trouble with my parents when I was younger! Music relaxes me or gives me the boost I need when I need it. I have the chance to drive regularly to Charles Sturt in Wagga form Canberra where I am based. I am a big Beatles fan. When driving I enjoy them. The perfect playlist has to include the Kinks, The Stones, the Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Cream, Van Morrisson, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Lenny Kravitz, REM, The Smashing Pumpkins, Jeff Buckley, The Foo Fighters, Rage against the Machine, The Last Shadow Puppets or Radiohead, some Dutch bands called Golden Earring and Drive Like Maria or Down Under bands such as Crowded House, AC/DC or Powderfinger and many more- it would be an article on its own!


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