Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences
Professor Steel is a professor of viticulture specialising in diseases of grapevines and other horticultural crops. After completing his PhD at the University of Birmingham (UK) on host pathogen interactions in Fusarium wilt of tomato, he conducted periods of post-doctoral training at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, (UK), with the agrochemical company Dr R Maag AG in Switzerland and with the NSW Department of Agriculture in Rydalmere, Australia. A focus of his research at this time was physiological plant pathology, fungicide resistance and elucidation of the mode of actions of a range of pesticides used in agriculture. His more recent research has had a focus on the impact grape growing practices have on wine quality. He is a member of the Australian Society for Viticulture and Oenology and serves on the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research. He is a former board member of the Australian Wine Research Institute.
The impact of climate and the environment on grape production and disease incidence have been a major focus of Professor Steel’s research. Recent research has been concerned with the impact fungal plant pathogens have on grape and wine quality. Much of his research has been of a multi-disciplinary nature, encompassing plant pathology, analytical chemistry, and sensory science. His engagement with industry partners has led to the successful completion of several joint PhD projects. He is known nationally and internationally for his work on fungal bunch rots of grapes and in particular, Botrytis grey mould. Much of his research is of an applied nature, providing research solutions to the wine industry. He has conducted numerous workshops for grape growers and wine makers in Australia and has presented his research widely around the globe in diverse countries including Argentina, Chile, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, UK and the USA.