Associate Professor Spencer Whitney is a Centre investigator, primarily in Program 1, but with overlapping interests in Programs 2 and 3. His research in the Centre explores correlative changes in Rubisco catalysis and protein sequence to identify the underpinning structural solutions for improving CO2 fixation by photosynthesis. He also plays a role in development and use of novel chloroplast bioengineering capabilities for a number of the genetic manipulation projects.
Within the Centre, Spencer contributes to lead the experimental operations involving stable plastome transformation, the measuring of Rubisco sequence and catalysis variation, and the bioengineering of recombinant photosynthetic proteins into tobacco chloroplasts. Over the last decade his research has helped promote an understanding of new capabilities in bioengineering photosynthetic carbon fixation through targeted changes to Rubisco biogenesis and catalysis.
Spencer’s research focuses on utilising novel biotechnological tools to scrutinize the biology of the biospheres most abundant protein, the photosynthetic CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco (ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase).
Spencer undertook his Bachelor of Science (Honours) and PhD at James Cook University.
Spencer is internationally known for his research into the mechanisms and manipulation of Rubisco and chloroplast bioengineering. His pivotal work on modifying plant photosynthesis via Rubisco engineering led to him being awarded the Goldacre Award in 2002 from the Australian Society of Plant Scientists and an International Photosynthesis Congress Young Scientist Award in 2004.
From 2004 to 2009 he held an ARC Research Fellowship and from 2009 to 2013 held an ARC Future Fellowship.