>>Press Release: August 5th 2014<<
The Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology was showcased at an official launch held at the University of Western Australia (UWA) on Monday evening, the 4th of August.
Dignitaries, including Senator for Western Australia Chris Back, ARC Chief Executive Officer Professor Aidan Byrne, UWA Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Johnson and Chief Scientist of Western Australia Professor Peter Klinken toured laboratory facilities at the Centre’s UWA node. The Centre’s research was showcased by Chief Investigators representing the Centre’s Australian National University, University of Adelaide and La Trobe University nodes and by Chief Investigators, staff and students from the Centre’s UWA node.
The Centre of Excellence Scheme aims to fund highly innovative and potentially transformational research. The Centre’s successful application for funding in the most recent ARC Centres of Excellence scheme round will support research and community engagement through till the year 2020.
Professor Aidan Byrne emphasised that while the Centre shares a name with a previous Centre the ARC does not automatically grant a renewal of funding. “It is not good enough just to have done excellent research. To succeed again a Centre must be able to build from previous activity, it must identify new challenges and demonstrate the capacity to achieve them – it is not just about more of the same” he said.
The current Centre has seen Professor Harvey Millar commence as Centre Director and the appointment of new Chief Investigators, expanding research directions and capabilities for the Centre. The new Centre has also seen the start of a La Trobe University node.
The Centre’s vision is to enhance plant energy efficiency by simultaneously optimising energy capture, conversion and use in changing environments to improve the sustainable productivity of plants. The Centre aims to do this through innovative, collaborative research and valuable national and international academic and industry partnerships.
“This research Centre is about plant scientists combining their efforts in fundamental plant biology, with an eye on its application as part of a global effort” said Professor Millar. “Salinity, temperature extremes, and nutrient deficient soils are key parts of the problems we face, and these are all topics we are addressing in the Centre”.
The Centre’s research will help to tackle food security and energy crisis concerns, and will lead to social and economic benefits for Australia.
“The impact [of plant science] will be profound on what we grow, what we eat and how we engage with the natural environment” said Professor Millar.
The Centre also aims to provide Australians with access to information and to facilitate a better understanding of the importance of plants and their incredible ability to capture, process and convert energy through its Education, Training and Outreach programs.
The ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology 2014-2020 was officially opened by Senator Chris Back.
“The Centre has already produced outstanding research outcomes in the past and will continue to do so for the next seven years that funding that has been assured. I look forward to the continued success of [Centre Director] Harvey, your colleagues and of course your graduate and postgraduate students. It really gives me great pleasure to launch the Centre” Senator Back stated before officially opening the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.