KAUST Professor Mark Tester receives award for agricultural innovation

Mark Tester, KAUST professor of plant science, has been honored with a prestigious Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation 2019. He will receive the award on March 10 in Abu Dhabi. Photo by Sarah Munshi.

Mark Tester, KAUST professor of plant science, has won a prestigious Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation (KIADPAI) 2019.

KIADPAI was founded by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates. The annual awards were established as an appreciation to the innovators and workers in the agricultural and date palm sector—both in the UAE and in other countries of the world—to recognize outstanding innovations and efforts targeting sustainable development of the sector for present and future generations.

Tester received his award for "Distinguished Innovative Studies and Modern Technology." His research program investigates ways to modify crop plants in order to increase productivity in conditions of challenging abiotic stress, with consequent improvement of yield in Saudi Arabia, the region and globally.

A larger aspiration for Tester and his team is to unlock seawater through the development of a new and economically viable agricultural system in which salt-tolerant crops are irrigated with partially desalinized seawater or brackish groundwater.

KAUST Professor of Plant Science Mark Tester is shown in the KAUST labs working with two of his Ph.D. students. Photo by Sarah Munshi.

"I am truly honored to receive this award. It is wonderful for [the work] to be recognized in this way. Agriculture is a significant industry in the region and our scientific research is contributing to the sector at the national, regional and international levels," Tester said.

"The [a]ward has attracted participation from top researchers, experts, farmers and those interested in the date palm sector from all around the world competing in its varied categories," stated Professor Abdelouahhab Zaid, secretary general of KIADPAI.

The winners of the eleventh KIADPAI will be presented with their awards at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on March 10.

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