The Centre is now mid-way through its funding from the Australian Research Council for seven years to the end of 2020.
The Centre's 10 Chief Investigators have led highly productive research teams over the last three years (2014-2016) with major advances made in cell metabolism and signalling regulation, stress response and transport, genome wide association mapping, epigenomics and ecophysiology. Our ground-breaking strategic research is also aiding the Australian grains industry in their aims for wheat improvement.
Attracting the very best young scientists to develop their projects in collaboration with us is a key focus of the Centre. This makes maximum use of the exciting intellectual environment and the wonderful modern facilities at each of our four nodes. More than 20 Future Fellows, DECRA Fellows and International Fellowship holders have joined the Centre to develop their own research programs since 2014.
The Centre is committed to the mentoring of our staff and students and enhancing their skills to make them independent researchers in the competitive world environment of academia, industry and government. Our pledge in this regard is found in our Mentoring to Independence Program (M2I).
Many of the projects started early in the life of the Centre are now reaching their most productive phases. This productivity is not coming at the price of quality, and the Centre's papers remain highly sought after in the top plant science journals. Using citations as a metric, the Centre rivals many of the world's best known and respected plant science centres, and Centre investigators remain in demand as presenters at international conferences.
With changes of both funding, people and equipment come exciting opportunities for the new Centre and its staff. The research programs of the Centre are regularly reviewed, revamped, reorganised and new ones added to set new strategic directions in our research. New research on transport systems that use so much of the chemical energy transformed in cells have been initiated. Much wider use of environmental simulation facilities and of genomics and epigenomic profiling of plants is being undertaken as we seek to explore the gene networks that control energy efficiency of plants. Experimental flux analysis and mathematical modelling activities are being used as we seek to quantify the cellular economy of plant systems.
The Centre rightly prides itself not only on excellent science coming from its labs, but also strives to make sure that its discoveries are relevant to society. Partnerships with industry on selected topics of interest to stakeholders have been initiated to value-add the expertise of the Centre's researchers. Salinity tolerance, drought tolerance, phenomics of energy traits, biomarkers in metabolism and plant hybrid systems are the current focus of these efforts.
Prof. Harvey Millar