John McEwan, Distinguished Biotechnologist of the Year
In March 2010, John McEwan received the 2010 Ross Clark Distinguished Biotechnologist of the Year Award, supported by PALL Life Sciences. This award is presented to a leader in their field whose utilisation of biotechnology during their career has contributed significantly to improving quality of life.
With over 30 years of research and achievement, McEwan has been a leader in using genetics research to assist the sheep and cattle industries. His work includes developing a national sheep recording database, five DNA tests to identify sheep that carry specific traits such as increased loin muscling and most recently the use of the sheep 'SNP chip' to further advance the genetic improvement of our national flock.
The judging committee noted that 'John McEwan has used modern genomics to develop commercial tests for identifying valuable traits in sheep, which are otherwise difficult to detect. It is applied research which is having a significant financial impact on sheep farming in New Zealand and helping to maintain the industry's competitive position.'
John acknowledged his colleagues, saying 'I am very happy to accept this award. I feel it represents recognition of what the AgResearch Animal Genomics group has delivered to the sheep, cattle and deer industry's over the past two decades.'
'It demonstrates how we are now able to translate basic international science efforts like sequencing of the cattle, sheep and deer genomes into useful industry applications. This may appear to be a tough sell, but over many years I have been very strongly supported by industry organisations and especially performance recording breeders in this role and am very humbled by their support.'