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Susanne von Caemmerer, Deputy Director

Professor Susanne von Caemmerer was the Centre Deputy Director and co-leader of Research Program 1. Her research spans projects in Programs 1, 2, 3 and 4 being focussed on understanding and improving C4 photosynthesis, genetically manipulating the photosynthetic electron transport chain, and developing better leaf and plant photosynthetic models.

Susanne’s research was focused on the gas exchange of leaves, the biochemistry of CO2 fixation and the regulation of CO2 and water vapour diffusion in species with C3, C4 or CAM photosynthetic pathways. Originally trained in pure mathematics, she worked across scales in biochemistry, molecular biology and whole plant physiology combining mathematical modelling approaches with experimental verification.

She worked on photosynthesis and stomatal function, with an emphasis on the mathematical modelling of the carbon acquisition of plants, the biochemistry of carbon dioxide fixation and regulation of carbon dioxide diffusion in leaves.

Susanne obtained her BA (Honours) in Pure Mathematics in 1976 at the Australian National University (ANU) and her PhD in Plant Physiology in 1981, also at ANU.

She is internationally renowned for her research on photosynthetic modelling, analysis of photosynthesis and stomatal function by genetic manipulation, and stable isotope fractionation in plants.

She was elected to the German Academy of Science Leopoldina in 2006 and as a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in the same year. She is also a member of the C4 Rice Consortium, a group multidisciplinary scientist from around the world working together to discover genes that will supercharge photosynthesis in rice to boost food production in the developing world.

Susanne won the prestigious Charles F. Kettering award by the American Society of Plant Biologists in 2014.

Susanne von Caemmerer co-developed what is arguably the most widely used biochemical model in plant biology – the Farquhar, von Caemmerer and Berry model of C3 photosynthesis. She then went on to develop an equally widely used model of C4 photosynthesis. She resolved the long debated and critical question of why there is so much Rubisco by showing that under high-light Rubisco exerts very strong metabolic control in both C3 and C4 plants and therefore is not in excess. Most recently she has led the way toward resolving anomalies around the critical issue of mesophyll conductance.

Susanne was with the Centre from 2014 to 2021