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Biographical entry Pitman, Michael George (1933 - 2000)


7 February 1933
30 March 2000
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Biologist and Chief Scientist


Michael Pitman was Australia's Chief Scientist from 1992 to 1996 and was Professor of Biology (Plant Physiology) at the University of Sydney for 17 years from 1966. His research focused on plant nutrition by seeking to understand the functions of parts of the plant in relation to the whole organism. He became one of the foremost authorities on whole-plant physiology. In 1983 Pitman became Director of the CSIRO Institute of Biological Resources with responsibility for eight Divisions whose programs centred on research and development to improve agricultural and forestry production and to manage the natural environment including land and water. As Chief Scientific Advisor to the Minister for Science Pitman played a key role in the production of the Prime Minister's Science and Technology Statement in 1989 which included a commitment to establish a Cooperative Research Centres Program. He chaired the CRC Committee as part of his role as Chief Scientist, developing the Program into a substantial and significant component of Australia's research enterprise.



1958 - 1962
Career position - Demonstrator, Department of Botany, University of Adelaide
Education - PhD, University of Cambridge
1959 - 1962
Career position - Fellow, St John's College, Cambridge
1962 - 1966
Career position - Lecturer, Department of Botany, University of Adelaide
1966 - 1983
Career position - Professor of Biology (Plant Physiology), University of Sydney
1975 - 1978
Career position - President, Australian Museum Trust
1975 - 1978
Career position - Member, Australian Research Grants Committee
Award - Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
1978 - 1984
Career position - Member of Council, Australian Institute of Marine Science
Award - DSc, University of Cambridge
1981 -
Career position - Fellow, Australian Academy of Science
1982 - 1983
Career position - Member, Australian Science and Technology Council
1982 - 1984
Career position - Chairman, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, New South Wales
1983 - 1985
Career position - Director, Institute of Biological Resources, CSIRO
1983 - 1986
Career position - Member, Australian Biological Resources Advisory Committee
1985 - 1987
Career position - Associate Member of Executive, CSIRO
1987 - 1988
Career position - Deputy to Chief Executive, CSIRO
1988 - 1992
Career position - Chief Scientific Adviser, Commonwealth Department of Industry Technology and Commerce
1992 - 1996
Career position - Chief Scientist, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
1992 - 1996
Career position - Executive Officer, Prime Minister’s Science and Engineering Council
1992 - 1996
Career position - Chairman, Co-ordination Committee on Science and Technology
1992 - 1996
Career Position - Chairman, Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Committee
Award - Fellow, Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology
1997 - 1999
Career position - Foreign Secretary, Australian Academy of Science

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McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn