Centre’s Deputy Director receives ANU’s most prestigious award

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By Natalia Bateman, CoETP, December 14, 2016


Centre’s Deputy Director Professor Susanne von Caemmerer received the Australian National University’s highly-regarded Peter Baume Award on Wednesday 14 December 2016.

Named after former ANU Chancellor, Professor the Hon. Peter Baume AC, this award is the University’s highest recognition for exceptional staff members and Alumni of the University whose contributions to the economic, cultural, scientific or social development of Australia or the international community have demonstrated distinguished service of the highest degree.

Professor 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 enzyme by showing that under high-light Rubisco exerts very strong metabolic control in both C3 and C4 plants and therefore is not in excess.

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.

susanne-peter-baume-award-december-2016“What a well-deserved honour,” said Research School of Biology Director Allen Rodrigo, congratulating Susanne.  “We have always known that you do excellent science, but can I also say that you do it in such a nice way, always with a smile, always collegial, and always with the best interests of your discipline, your students, your colleagues, the School, and the University, in mind.”

Professor von Caemmerer 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 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. Most recently she has led the way toward resolving anomalies around the critical issue of mesophyll conductance.