Tall Poppy Award for Dr Joanna Melonek

Posted: Sep 10th, 2021

PEB scientist Dr Joanna Melonek has been named a 2021 West Australian Tall Poppy.

PEB scientist Dr Joanna Melonek has been named a 2021 West Australian Tall Poppy.

The Young Tall Poppy Awards are presented annually by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science (AIPS) as a recognition of individuals who combine world-class research with a passionate commitment to communicating science and who demonstrate great leadership potential.

The prestigious Young Tall Poppy Science Award recognises Joanna’s work at the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology (CoE in PEB) within the School of Molecular Sciences at the University of Western Australia.

Joanna’s research focuses on restorer-of-fertility-like (RFL) genes and their application to hybrid breeding in crops, with particular emphasis on wheat. Hybrid varieties are favoured for their attractive agronomic traits, higher and more stable yields. However, for many staple crops like wheat or barley, hybrid seed production on a commercial scale remains difficult. Joanna’s research is helping to change that.

Joanna collaborates with world-leading academic institutes and research consortia in Europe and Canada. In 2014, she has started a successful collaboration with Limagrain, the 4th largest seed producing company in the world. These collaborative projects have led to high-impact publications and patent applications, which positioned her as an internationally recognised expert in the field of RFL genomics in cereals.

In addition to her research work, Joanna has been proactively involved in science communication and outreach activity. She has given radio and journal interviews where she explains her research and the benefits of modern plant breeding to the Australian growers and broader community. To promote science, she has spoken to hundreds of high-school students, their parents, and teachers to provide a glimpse into the exciting world of STEM.