Dr Christopher McSweeney graduated from the University of Queensland with an Honours degree in Veterinary Science in 1976, and then practiced privately as a veterinarian. He subsequently completed a PhD at the University of Queensland in 1982 for his research on the gastrointestinal toxicology of lantana in ruminants. He then joined CSIRO, initially in Townsville and then in Brisbane where he undertook research on the major nutritional problems faced by the northern Australian cattle industry including mineral and nitrogen deficiencies, indigestibility of plant fibre, poor reproductive performance of cows, and toxic plants.
Chris was a Visiting Research Scholar in gut microbiology at the University of Illinois in 1989 and on returning to Australia, he set up an anaerobic microbiology laboratory at CSIRO in Brisbane. This facilitated the study of recombinant bacteria with enhanced capacity for rumen digestion. In 2001, Chris spent time at Ohio State University to study the functional genomics of fibrolytic rumen bacteria under the Australian Academy of Science’s international exchange program. Since then he has been a stream and/or group leader of research teams with capabilities embracing gastrointestinal microbiology and the metagenomics of gut microbiota in both livestock and humans. He is currently a Chief Research Scientist with CSIRO.
Throughout his career, Chris has maintained an interest in ruminant toxicology with projects that have continued to provide new strategies for the management of leucaena feeding systems and a focus on plants, especially the Heart-leaf bush that are responsible for fluoroacetate intoxication of livestock. The identification of rumen bacteria capable of degrading fluoroacetate is a significant step in solving this problem by adapting the rumen microbiome to be resilient to this toxin. In addition to his current focus on gastrointestinal microbiology and metagenomics, Chris has started work on behavioral, digestive and metabolic factors that underpin feed conversion efficiency in ruminant livestock with an aim to identify phenotypic markers
for the trait.
Chris has published more than 230 peer-reviewed publications and in the last five years, he has published more than 60 peer-reviewed papers, 17 invited reviews/book chapters, 35 conference papers and presented invited papers at several international conferences. His academic standing has resulted in his appointment as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland, and RMIT University, Melbourne. He is also a visiting Professor at Zheijang University in China and a reviewer for major international journals. Since graduation Chris has been a member of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Society of Animal Production, a member of the Queensland committee since 1989, and a member of the Federal Council in 2006–2008.
In recognition of Christopher McSweeney’s contribution to the ruminant industries in Australia through research leadership in rumen microbiology and metagenomics, and his ongoing support of ASAP, the Australian Society of Animal Production is pleased to enrol him as a Fellow of the Society.