Dr Joanna Melonek

University of Western Australia
Research Field: Plant Molecular Biology

To meet food demands of the growing human population crop production needs to increase by at least 50%. This can be achieved by growing high-yielding and stress-resistant hybrid varieties. 

For many crops like rice, maize or canola most of the planted varieties are already hybrids. However, in other crops like wheat hybrid varieties are still missing. This is due to difficulty of producing hybrid seed on a commercial scale — a major limitation that Dr Melonek’s work helps to address.

To raise awareness of the importance of science and technology for future generations, Dr Melonek has been actively involved in various forms of community engagement events (Biotech Bonanza, Feed the Future, Moonboorli). During UWA Open Day and National Science Week events, she was demonstrating the Virtual Plant Cell, a suite of immersive, educational virtual reality, to explain plant cell biology and communicate research in a fun and engaging way. 

Dr Melonek was awarded her PhD from the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany in 2011 and is a research fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, School of Molecular Sciences, The University of Western Australia.