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Robert Furbank, Centre Director

Professor Robert (Bob) Furbank was both Centre Director and Co-Leader of Research Program 3.

Bob’s research within the Centre focused on the identification of enhanced photosynthetic properties in crop and model plant germplasm together with interests in improving C4 photosynthesis. He has particular experience with translation of experimental work into an applied crop context, which is one of the translational aims of the Centre.

He worked on improving photosynthesis and yield potential using plant phenomics techniques and by genetic manipulation in crop plants; developing new tools for plant phenomics and imaging plant performance in the glasshouse and the field and mechanisms of abiotic stress tolerance in cereals. He used high throughput phenotyping and molecular genetics to understand genetic variation and biochemical regulation of photosynthesis and carbon allocation between different plant organs and between different storage compounds in wheat and rice. In rice, he was using molecular techniques to install a CO2 concentrating mechanism in rice as part of the IRRI led Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supported C4 Rice Consortium. In wheat he worked closely with the Grains Research and Development Corporation to identify genetic variation in photosynthetic performance and develop new tools for high throughput measurement of photosynthesis.

Bob was awarded a Bachelor of Science (first class Honours) from the University of Wollongong, in 1979.He completed his PhD at the Australian National University, in 1982.

Bob is internationally known for his research into aspects of photosynthesis and carbon allocation/transport in crop plants, and understanding and manipulating C4 photosynthesis. He is also part of the CIMMYT led International Wheat Yield Consortium and the IRRI Global Rice Initiative Science Partnership.

He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II research fellowship in 1987 and two ACT ICT Innovation Awards in 2013 and the CSIRO Plant Industry Leadership Award in 2014.

Bob was with the Centre from 2014 to 2021