Timothy Ryan

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Rob Sharwood and I supervised Tim through his honours and he was planning on doing his PhD before he became very ill. We are very proud that he completed his Honours degree as he did this while undergoing chemotherapy and it was not an easy time for him.

I really enjoyed working with Tim. There are not many students that are willing to grabble with equations and he was very good with my model of C4 photosynthesis. We did argue about it a lot. He also did very nice gas exchange work especially looking at variation in stomatal opening ( stomata are the tiny pores on leaves surfaces that allow gas exchange to occur) in some of his Setaria plants with reduce PEPC. I will be presenting some of Tim’s results at a meeting on stomata in Switzerland in June.”

Professor Susanne von Caemmerer, ANU and Deputy Director CoETP.


“Tim kept pretty quiet about his cancer and the intensive treatment he received during his honours. Only the “inner circle” of his scientific colleagues and supervisors knew the full score.  He was able to do this because of an incredible “can do” attitude which enabled him to sandwich his experiments and writing between chemo sessions and stay focused on the next experiments and the next steps in his career.  On completion of his honours degree, we had a conversation about PhD projects and I asked him directly if this was what he really wanted to do with his life.  His response was that he wasn’t going to let his cancer treatment get in the way of his studies and what he wanted for his future.  The word “inspirational” gets over used but certainly having that kind of attitude is more than admirable.  Even as recently as Christmas time he was still looking forward to a PhD project and his passing was a great surprise to many of us, including me.  We have lost a talented student and valued lab member in Tim and he will be sorely missed. I recently heard one in three of us will be affected by cancer in our lives. I hope we can show the stamina Tim displayed in dealing with it if that misfortune should befall us.”

Professor Robert Furbank, Director CoE for Translational Photosynthesis


“The first time I met Tim was in July, 2014. Susanne introduced me to him. I found he was a bright young guy with a bit of unfriendly approach and he was annoyed by my many questions. However, I didn’t gave up and I kept trying my best to be friendly with him. Usually in our corridor whenever I used to see him I had to say “Hi, Tim” two times to get a reply and I always enjoyed making him responsive towards me.

Eventually, we got along well, and whenever I asked anything either about science, general lab or personal matters, the first thing he asked me straight away was “Why?”. I would like to mention a little incident: On a very hot summer day, I found one of our glass houses was completely messy and I had to clean it and I was not happy at all. I spoke to him about it, letting him know how upset I was. He smiled and said “Yes, I am the messy person” and I had to start laughing because I didn’t have an answer for it. Whenever we spoke about his health, at the end of our discussion he always reminded me to keep my mouth shut. During our last email conversation, he was only worried about losing his hair.

He was a positive, smart guy with two very bright eyes and a beautiful smile. Rest in peace Tim and I am sure you have already started asking “WHY” on Earth, you need to be there so early.”

Soumi Bala, Technical Officer, ANU and CoETP.


“Tim was a hard-working quiet achiever; I would sometimes see he would be working after hours. I remember speaking with him just before he gave his first honours seminar, he was very nervous but I could tell that it was because he had a strong passion for his research project and a real desire to communicate that to the audience which he did very well. He was a keen, methodical and focused student in general wanting to know the correct ways of interpreting data for the most sincere of reasons, simply to produce good science. Tim wanted to learn from others but I think we can all learn something from him, not only remembering him but trying to apply his characteristic diligence and stoicism to our own work and more broadly, to our lives.”

Lauren Venugoban, Technical Officer ANU and CoE TP

“It was great working with Tim, a hard thinking student impatient to break molds.

His ideas and his plants will continue growing among us.”

Dr Hugo Alonso-Cantabrana, Posdoc researcher ANU and C4 Project

“I am so sorry to hear about Tim, a very sad situation.  I was impressed that he keep on working and focused on his research even though he was not well.”

Dr Asaph Cousins, Researcher Washing University, Visitor at CoETP in 2016

“I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Tim. I met Tim while he was doing his Honours in the Department, he was such a hard working young man. My heart goes out to his family at this difficult time. Tim will remain in our memories in our hearts. May he rest in peace.”

Dr Elena Martin-Avila, Posdoc Researcher ANU and CoETP.

“I have not known Tim for long as I joined ANU only late last 2015, but whenever I saw him in the lab or office, he was always working hard towards his honours. I once asked him what his plans were for the future without even knowing about his condition with melanoma. He said he wanted to do his PhD. This really shows how determined he was as an honours student and how much he loved to be working with plants even when he was going through such a tough time. Timothy was a real strength to the von Caemmerer lab and to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis and he will be missed. Our deepest condolences to his family and all his loved ones.”

Riya Rebecca Kuruvilla, Technical Officer ANU and CoETP



                           Good Bye, Tim.