Ta-Yan Leong, interviewed by Tom Spurling and Terry Healy, 7 February 2019

By June 26th, 2018

Ta-Yan Leong joined the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry in 1982. He joined Head Office in 1994 and was instrumental in driving CSIRO’s Asian engagement

Edited transcript (PDF – 405KB)

Interview summary

Dr Ta-Yan Leong was born in Ipoh, Malaya (now Malaysia) on 3 December 1946. In the first part of the interview he describes growing up as a Mandarin speaker in post-war Malaya, including his primary and secondary education in public and private schools. He then talks about his experiences as a tertiary student in Chiba and Kyoto. He was studying industrial chemistry in Japan and completed a Master of Engineering degree. It was in Japan that Ta-Yan learnt to speak German, decided to switch from chemistry to cell biology and went to Germany to complete his doctoral degree at the Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology. On completion of his degree in Germany, Ta-Yan spent two years at the School of Biological Sciences, Stanford University. He was thus well qualified to take a Research Scientist position in the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry. He talks frankly about his feelings of insecurity in the Division and why he took the opportunity to transfer to a position in the CSIRO Centre for International Research Cooperation. In the last part of the interview Ta-Yan reflects upon his achievements during his time in CIRC and his interactions with his Chief Executives.


Interview recorded in Black Mountain (Canberra) on 7 February 2019 as part of the CSIRO History Project.


Copyright owned by Swinburne University of Technology and CSIRO. Some re-use permitted (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND)

Related information

Ta-Yan Leong interviewed by Matthew Higgins (National Library of Australia)