Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences
Professor Gurr is well known internationally for his work on applied insect ecology and developing ecologically-based strategies to harmonise agriculture with the environment. Following doctoral training at Imperial College and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge, his work over the last three decades has spanned biological control of insect pests, plant defence, insect-vectored plant pathogens, chemical and molecular ecology. His chief contribution has been to develop strategies for promoting the activity of natural enemies of pests and simultaneously delivering other ecosystem services that build resilience in farming systems. These methods are used on increasing numbers of farms in Australia and overseas. In China, for example, the use of companion crops beside rice crops to attract beneficial insects that control pests has become nationally-recommended policy. Reflecting the real-world impact of his research, he won Engagement Australia’s excellence award for Outstanding Research Engagement in 2020. Such work has been the subject of two of the three books for which he was senior editor and many of his more than 200 scientific papers that include Nature Plants, Nature Genetics, Nature Communications, PNAS and Annual Review of Entomology.