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Dedicated to Emeritus Professor Sir Rutherford Robertson (affectionately known as Bob Rob), in recognition of his formative influence on plant science in Australasia.


R.N. (Bob) Robertson shown beside a scale model of APT synthase, initiated by Graeme Cox and crafted by Istvan Zaveczky at Australian National University (RSBS workshop).(Photograph courtesy Jeff Wilson, RSBS, Australian National University)

‘...My thoughts here go back to a surprise of about forty years ago when Marjorie Wilkins and I were collaborating with John Farrant (CSIRO Industrial Chemistry). With his electron microscope, we had seen what we then called ‘knobs’ protruding from the inner surfaces of plant mitochondria. A bigger surprise is that the molecular structure of such bodies is now so well understood...When you think that in my student days, some senior biologists were saying that proteins were such complicated structures, it was improbable that we should ever be able to elucidate their structure, it really is a surprise to be able to appreciate and get enjoyment from the intricate structure and complex functions of an ATPase/ATP synthase...'

R.N. Robertson (1996). ‘A life of surprises in plant physiology', in Australian Society of Plant Physiologists Directory of Members, 1996, 4-10, ASPP Inc.: Canberra. (Edited version.)

‘I believe that the most satisfying philosophy of life encourages unselfishness, with concern for and tolerance of fellow humans. In this, science can play a vital role, helping us to leave the world a better place for having lived.

‘Scientific understanding of ourselves and of our environment should lead us to eventual peaceful interaction, irrespective of color, race, class, or nationality'.

R.N. Robertson (1992). 'A dilettente Australian plant biologist’, Annual Review of Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology, 41, 1-24.