Dr Sambasivam Periyannan

Research Field: Agriculture and Phylogenetics

Dr Sam Periyannan’s passion for crop research is rooted since his
childhood being brought up along canes and cassava at a small farm in
South India. After completing a master’s degree in Agriculture and a brief
stint as a horticultural pathologist, he crossed the Indian ocean to
complete his PhD at the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute,
known globally for pioneering research on rust diseases of wheat crops,
which are vital for our food security. His breakthrough in identifying the
first gene to protect wheat against stem rust pathogen secured him a
scientific position at CSIRO where he currently leads a team.
His research involves the identification of new resistance, as rust
pathogens routinely evolve mutant strains to overcome widely used
resistance genes. To streamline the process, Dr Periyannan develops
modern tools, whereby disease-resistant varieties are developed within
three years compared to traditional approaches that take at least eight
Using his success, Dr Periyannan also inspires the younger generation
through STEM activities and sharing his research at schools, colleges and
public events both in Australia and India.