Prof. Ayob was born on 11 January 1937 in Perak, Malaysia. He is married with two children.

He obtained his BSc (1962), BAgr (Hons) (1963), and PhD (1965) from Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. He carried out research as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Agriculture of Wageningen, Holland (1970), in the Department of Plant Pathology of Queen’s University Belfast (1971-1972), and in the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Exeter, UK (1975). He was awarded an Honorary DSc from the University of Portsmouth and a DSc from the University of Belfast (1995).

He began his career as a Demonstrator in Botany, Mycology and Plant Pathology at Queen’s University (1963-1965), and worked as a Botanist and Plant Pathologist for the Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture (1966-1967). He then joined the University of Malaya and became Lecturer (1967-1974), Associate Professor (1974-1978), Head of the Department of Botany (1974-1975), Dean of the Faculty of Sciences (1976-1978), Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (1977), Professor of Botany (1978), Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Finance and Development (1983-1986), Acting Vice-Chancellor (1986), and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (1991).

Prof. Ayob is or has been a member of the following professional bodies: the Council of the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, the Malaysian National Science Council (since 1981), the Council of the National Institute of Public Administration, the Board of the Royal Military College, and the Management Committee of the National Scientific Research and Development Trust Fund (since 1981) and IFSTAD’s Malaysian National Committee. He was also President of the Malaysian Society for Microbiology (1986-1987) and President of the Malaysian Society of Applied Biology. He was a Founding Fellow of the Malaysian Academy of Sciences (1996).

He is the author of more than 60 specialized publications and the leader of Malaysian national expert delegations to several international conferences.

He was awarded the Johan Mangku Negara (JMN) by the Malaysian King (1982) and Datuk Paduka Cura Si Manja Kini (DPCM) by the Sultan of Perak (1986).

Prof. Ayob is a Founding Fellow of the IAS in (1986).