David Aldous began his career at Burnley (Victorian College of Agriculture and Horticulture/University of Melbourne) in 1981.
David had many strings to his academic bow: starting with a Wagga Diploma in Agriculture (Hons) from the now Charles Sturt University in 1966, and, after a year with NSW Department of Agriculture as an agronomist, gained a BSc (Hons) from the University of Sydney in 1971 and an MSc and a PhD from respectively Cornell University and University of Michigan State. Then followed an appointment as a Senior Lecturer in Environmental & Plant Health at Massey University in New Zealand in 1979 followed by one as a Principal Lecturer at Burnley campus of the then Victorian College of Agriculture & Horticulture in 1981. Subsequently he gained a Graduate Diploma in Education Management from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and a technical and further education (TAFE) Certificate IV in Training & Assessment, rising to Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne’s School of Land & Environment. His main contributions were teaching and research centred around sports turf, urban horticulture, parks management and therapeutic horticulture.
When he retired (or rather semi-retired) in 2007 to Queensland he became an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Queensland. In 2011 he was granted an Honorary Professorship by the University of South Africa.
He was a prolific researcher, educator and author. He was a speaker at many conferences in Australia and overseas, especially on his specialist topics of urban horticulture, green space sustainability, and sports grass/turf. Consequently, David was well known to many Australian ‘turfies’ and horticultural students as a lecturer at Burnley College (School of Land & Environment campus of the University of Melbourne), lecturing on the Certificate of Recreational Turf Management which he coordinated. The Certificate was a well-respected qualification which eventually morphed into the Advanced Certificate, Diploma and Degree, advanced qualifications for which David was the driver.
David had the knack of enticing overseas researchers to take a sabbatical in Australia where they would collaborate with him in research projects. Over the years he hosted scientists such as Dr. David Huff (Poa annua and plant breeder), Dr. Brian Holl (soil microbiologist), Dr. John Haydu (turf industry economist), Dr. Sowmya Mitra (soil scientist specialising in wetting agents) and Dr. Kenneth Marcum (specialist in turfgrass salinity tolerance). Because of David’s enthusiasm for this ‘visiting scientists’ program it was an opportunity for several Australian turfgrass agronomists to be exposed to these researchers and to collaborate with them on research projects. Included in this work was the screening of a large bentgrass collection for salinity tolerance, assessment the effects of various herbicides on different Poa annua biotypes, studies of the effects of various bio-stimulants on soil microbial activity and the evaluation of some of PennState’s new Poa annua cultivars. These connections have been invaluable for many over the years when undertaking further research.
David was a great educator and would willingly tackle any turf-related topic. He had an appetite for researching the literature and becoming expert in many different fields. In addition, David was the consulting editor for the monthly international HortScience journal for 10 years.
The first National School in Park Management for professionals working in the sector was initiated by David in 1996, in collaboration with industry partners Parks Victoria and the City of Melbourne. From 1996 to 2007 David coordinated the National School each year. Together with his committee, he put together an intensive program that combined lectures and presentations with field visits and case study problem-solving activities.
David also helped develop and subsequently delivered annual Certificated Park Management training to the Singapore National Parks Board’s Centre for Urban Greenery & Ecology.
Away from the campus David was a very active member of the parks sector. He served across multiple industry professional associations, councils and committees and was a regular contributor to conferences and industry activities across Australia and internationally, particularly the Royal Australian Institute of Parks & Recreation (RAIPR) and subsequently Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA). For both he served on their regional/Victorian councils and conference organising committees. In 2005 he received PLA’s Frank Stewart Award 2005 “in recognition of significant innovation and best practice” in the parks and leisure sector.
In 1989 David became a Trustee of the AIPR Trust Fund – Education.
Since 2008 David had been the Chair of the International Society for Horticultural Science’s Commission on Education, Research, Training & Consultancy and was a member of the organising committee for the Society’s 2014 World Congress. David was part of the Australian contingent at the International Turfgrass Research Conference in Beijing China in 2013. At the conference he presented a paper on Durbangrass and publicised the 29th International Horticultural Congress that was to be held in Brisbane in August 2014.
David was an Australian Commissioner for the International Federation of Park and Recreation Administration (IFPRA), becoming its Asia-Pacific Chair and subsequently World President (1998-2001) and was also a member of its Science Task Force. He received its Australian Award for “leadership in the field of parks and recreation” in 1995 and, just days before his unexpected death, was the recipient of its Silver Medal at a joint conference between IFPRA and the Alberta Recreation and Park Association (ARPA) at Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada from 24-26 October 2013.
David collapsed at his home just a few hours after returning home from that Canadian trip. Despite being rushed to hospital, he passed away peacefully on Friday 1 November with his family at his side. He was 67.
David was a prolific writer, whether it was through a research paper, industry magazine article, conference proceedings or one of several books that he produced.