Cornelia Hooper

Posted: Jan 29th, 2020

Research Fellow

Dr Cornelia Hooper is a Research Fellow in Professor Ian Small’s PEB lab at The University of Western Australia. Her current work focuses on computational biology, researching metabolic network dependencies in crop plants to identify breeding targets.

Conny has a love of modelling and genome-scale computational networks. As a PhD student she delved deep into the origins of childhood brain cancers using viral vectors, embryonic stem cells and complex network modelling.

“I am big on riddles and love the idea of simulating thousands of metabolic conditions that would take too long using laboratory experiments. This can be used to predict biological outcomes like increased growth, energy output and nutrient use.”

After her PhD Conny was deciding whether to move into the biotech industry or try big data science, when PEB’s Professor Ian Small snapped her up, and introduced her to plant science.

“Since joining PEB, I’ve built a collection of interactive resources describing the location of proteins in the cells of crops (cropPAL) as well as Arabidopsis (SUBA4). Those resources have been used by over 400 published studies worldwide since 2012.”

“The complexity of plant genomes and proteomes offer vast amounts of metabolic combinations that we still don’t know much about.”

Conny is also passionate about using science to help address pressing social and environmental issues, such as climate change.

“I am planning to integrate the rising CO2 levels into my models to identify breeding targets for crops species to improve nutrient efficiency and increase yield, despite climate change.”