Nathan Tivendale

Posted: Aug 20th, 2019

Research Fellow

Dr Nathan Tivendale is a research fellow in the Millar group at PEB’s UWA node. His research aims to further our understanding of energy use and efficiency in plants, with a focus on protein synthesis and degradation. Originally from Tasmania, Nathan joined PEB in 2019 when he decided to shift back to academia after a time in industry.

“After my PhD, I accepted a Postdoctoral position at the University of Minnesota, which broadened my horizons in many ways. It was after my postdoc that I began to feel that perhaps I would be better suited to industry research, and I was fortunate enough to get an industry job in my home state of Tasmania. It was nice for a while, but after a few years, I found I missed academia and that’s how I ended up here at UWA.”

Part of what drove Nathan back to academia was a feeling that research is the best method for unlocking the full biochemical potential of plants. Through science, Nathan believes, people can use plants to benefit humankind.

“Plants are so important to humans. They provide food, fibre, pharmaceuticals and fuel. I am excited to be involved in increasing our fundamental understanding of the chemistry of plants and coming up with ways to harness this new knowledge for human benefit.”

And Nathan isn’t just talk when it comes to making an impact, his research is well cited, and has led to tangible advancements in his sub-field.

“When I was a PhD candidate, I wrote a paper called ‘Reassessing the role of N-hydroxytryptamine in auxin biosynthesis’, which challenged long-held theories regarding how an important chemical messenger in plants is made. After this article was published, there was a dramatic shift in scientists’ understanding of this sub-field.”

As for who to thank for his passion and interest in science, there are a couple of people Nathan can think of who helped him along the way.

“It was largely my father who sparked my interest in science. While he didn’t work as a scientist, he had a science degree and a highly rational and analytical mind. He frequently did home science experiments with us, including one that nearly took of my eyebrows! Also my PhD supervisor, John Ross. He’s such an enthusiastic scientist, with a real thirst for new knowledge and a dogged determination to keep going, even when things are challenging.”