Equipped with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and two dictionaries – one English to Persian and one Persian to English – Emeritus Professor Acram Taji (PhD(BiolSc) ’79) arrived in Adelaide from Iran in 1971 to study English and extend her knowledge on plants sciences.
Under the guidance of well-known children’s author Mem Fox (BA ’79, BEd ’80, DLitt ’04), Professor Taji developed her English language skills to an academic level and went on to achieve her PhD in Biological Science at Flinders University. She is now an ‘agricultural crusader’ and a global humanitarian educator, teaching at universities in developing countries.
‘Completing my PhD at Flinders and working as a researcher, then as an academic in horticultural science and crop physiology, was a dream come true and has provided me with an amazingly rewarding and fulfilled life,’ says Professor Taji.
‘Flinders taught me to learn not just about the world, but about making a difference in the world.’
With her expertise in plant physiology and horticultural science, and a passion for sharing her skills and knowledge, Professor Taji has since travelled to 85 countries and supervised 52 PhD students from 15 countries. Her research is now at the forefront of Australian native plant biotechnology.
In 1999 she became the first female to be promoted to the rank of Professor in the Faculty of Rural Science and Agriculture at the University of New England. For a woman from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, working in a traditionally male field, to reach the pinnacle of academia speaks volumes of Professor Taji’s focus and perseverance.
She has also received numerous awards for teaching and research, including the highest Iranian Science and Technology Award from the President of Iran, in 2007.
In recent years, Professor Taji has travelled the world as an agricultural crusader, giving keynote lectures at conferences to bring attention to the current challenges faced by humanity such as food, water and energy security.
She believes that education is not just about job skills.
‘It’s about about teaching people to be good global citizens,’ says Professor Taji. ‘It’s about building cohesive societies and caring for the environment, for our communities and for each other.’
In 2006 Professor Acram Taji received a Flinders University Distinguished Alumni Award for her significant contribution to the field of biological science. She has regularly donated to scholarships at Flinders University, especially the Rural Scholarship Fund.
Flinders graduates have global reach and international impact, read more