Dr Tom McKnight

Dr Tom McKnight was born in 1918, and began working with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock at the age of 14. He was appointed chief plant pathologist in 1939, before completing his Bachelor of Science at UQ in 1940. He continued his studies at UQ with a further Bachelor of Science with first class honours, a Master of Science, and a Doctor of Philosophy. In 1999, the University awarded him a Doctor of Agricultural Science honoris causa.

Dr McKnight was instrumental in the creation of the Queensland Wheat Research Institute, Toowoomba and was appointed first officer-in-charge in 1962. In 1967, he was appointed Senior Lecturer and Head of Plant Industries at the Queensland Agricultural College, Gatton. From 1969 until his retirement in 1974, he was the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s project manager for the development of wheat production in Brazil.

Throughout his career Dr McKnight conducted research on problems in soil microbiology and plant pathology. Dr McKnight was the first to recognise the cause of crown rot disease of wheat, led pioneering work on the nitrogen-fixing rhizobium bacteria, and was at the forefront of research into the slow-growing rhizobia of the cowpea inoculation group in tropical soils, and in establishing a legume inoculation service for Queensland farmers. His work has been widely quoted in international scientific literature.


Doctor of Agricultural Science honoris causa


Bachelor of Science
Master of Science
Doctor of Philosophy