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Posthumous award to Thai professor

Posthumous award to Thai professor

Lincoln University made its first posthumous award of an honorary doctorate at a special convocation ceremony on the campus today (24 October) marking the 125th anniversary of the University’s founding.

The late Professor Suranant Subhadrabandhu of Thailand was named as an Honorary Doctor of Science of Lincoln University in recognition of his outstanding career in horticultural science in Thailand.

Professor Subhadrabandhu died in July this year and illness had prevented him from attending the University’s May Graduation ceremony to receive the degree in person.

The parchment for the degree, Doctor of Science honoris causa, was received on behalf of Professor Subhadrabandhu’s family by a representative of the Royal Thai Embassy.

Professor Subhadrabandhu came to New Zealand as a Colombo Plan student in 1962 and graduated from Lincoln University with a Bachelor of Horticultural Science degree. He then completed a masters degree with honours in plant physiology and later went on to the United States on a Rockefeller Fellowship completing a PhD at Michigan State University.

He became Professor of Horticulture at Kasetsart University, Thailand, and served two terms as Vice-President of the university. He also held a position equivalent to Permanent Secretary of a Thai Government Ministry and was chairman of the Fruit Research and Development Committee of the Royal Project Foundation.

He was decorated by the King of Thailand for services to his country and to horticulture and held the Thai equivalent of a knighthood.

Professor Subhadrabandhu’s career was closely connected with the King of Thailand’s Royal Project in the north of Thailand aimed at improving the living standard of the hill tribes by establishing a crop substitute for the opium poppy and helping to reconstruct forestry.

He pioneered the introduction of suitable temperate fruit crops into the highlands to replace the opium poppy and worked on the adaptability of various introduced crops to highland conditions and the development of suitable methods for their cultivation.

His research also involved the physiology and genetics of tropical, subtropical and temperate fruit trees with an emphasis on the physiology of their growth and development in relation to yield and quality.

The citation for Professor Surbhadrabandhu’s degree says his career epitomised the application of scientific knowledge to practical ends that benefit everyday people.

Footnote: Professor Subhadrabandhu is only the third international alumnus to be awarded an honorary Lincoln doctorate among the 22 now conferred since the University began the practice in 1990.

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