New ARC Discovery Project

We are very pleased to have been successful in the 2018 ARC Discovery round. Our project “Brown is the new green: grassland responses to heat and drought”  aims to improve our ability to predict grassland productivity in hot & dry conditions with a better understanding of physiological drought tolerance and leaf browning. My co-CIs on this exciting new project are Prof Elise Pendall, A/Prof Sally Power, Prof David Tissue (all from HIE) and Profs Alan Knapp and Melinda Smith from Colorado State.


Dr Lu Yaojie

Lu’s PhD thesis, “Optimal and Competitive Stomatal Behaviour”, has passed examination with flying colours. Congratulations to both Lu and his primary supervisor Dr Remko Duursma! Lu has published on optimal stomatal behaviour already and has a second outstanding contribution on competitive behaviour in preparation.

New EucFACE paper

The EucFACE experiment, running since Sept 2012, has fumigated a mature eucalyptus woodland in western Sydney. In a paper published today in Nature Climate Change, we show that despite a significant and sustained increase in leaf-level photosynthesis, there has been no detectable increase in above-ground productivity. On average, light-saturated rates of photosynthesis increased by 19%, whereas the 95% CI for the elevated CO2 effect on total above-ground production was (-25%, +9%). It seems likely that low soil P availability restricted the plants’ growth response. Read more about it:

ABC News: Carbon emissions are not soaked up by trees as well as initially thought, say scientists

New Scientist: Global greening may soak up less carbon dioxide than projected


Journal Club Goes to AGU

Our journal club group has several members off to AGU next week. Here’s a list of their presentations:

Monday, 12 December 2016 08:00 – 12:20 Moscone South – Poster Hall 

Monday, 12 December 2016 16:45 – 17:00 Moscone West – 2006

Thursday, 15 December 2016 13:40 – 13:55 Moscone West – 2020

Friday, 16 December 2016 13:40 – 18:00 Moscone South – Poster Hall

PhD scholarship available

PhD Scholarship Available: Modelling Optimal Plant Behaviour, or Do Plants Hedge Their Bets?

We currently have a PhD scholarship available for a bright, mathematically oriented student to work on an ARC Discovery Project. The project aims to resolve one of the most long-standing questions about the functioning of plants: how much of the carbon that they take up in photosynthesis do they use immediately for growth, and how much do they keep in reserve as insurance for the future? The answer to this question is urgently needed to understand how plants respond to environmental change, and how vulnerable they are to stresses such as drought.

The student will benefit from the superlative research environment here at HIE and will also work with our outstanding collaborators, Roderick Dewar at ANU and Mat Williams at Edinburgh University (UK). The scholarship is open to international candidates. The project involves optimisation techniques such as calculus of variations so the student must have a good maths background. I strongly encourage women with this background to apply.

More information here or please email me: b.medlyn – at –

Closing date: 5 February 2017