My research interest is in beneficial symbioses between plant roots and nutrient-acquiring microbes. The Centre for Plant Success is enabling me to connect this underground world to other aspects of plant success by collaborating with Centre members, including the role of symbioses in crops and water relations.
Being part of the Centre, one of the things I am proud of is our focus on building an inclusive and supportive work environment, including promoting women with careers in Science & Mathematics. On February 11 our Centre Director, Professor Christine Beveridge, presented at a seminar to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science for the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI). Christine’s mentorship has been pivotal in my career and I am excited for the Centre to provide a strong network of mentors to the next generation of scientists from all backgrounds. Our Centre has a living Equity, Diversity & Inclusivity Policy that sets specific goals and is highlighted as a standing item at all Centre Node and Executive meetings, so please speak up about these matters and share your ideas!
We have ambitious goals for our Centre engagement and outreach as well. We are hoping to inspire a curiosity about the power of plants as well as increase knowledge of how plants work in both school-aged children and the wider community.
Our newly formed Outreach Working Group is currently working on:
- A fun and challenging app/online game in which players manipulate plant genes and consider evolution to find out who will survive and thrive in shifting environments.
- Facilitating our early career researchers to visit local schools through university ambassador programs.
- Shooting a video series to create engaging content that will support fun and hands-on curriculum-aligned teaching resources.
- Exciting public projects combining art and science.
Thanks to the Centre members who completed our recent outreach and engagement survey, our Outreach Officer, Emma Horswill, is now able to draw on experience and expertise to contribute to our outreach activities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for being generous with your time and giving back to younger generations in this way.
Back home at our Tasmanian Node, we have recently welcomed Nouman Sohail, a postdoctoral researcher who will be working on our domestication underground research project. Nouman has a wealth of experience in plant transformation, stress biology and a range of plant species including sorghum. I am excited to work with him to expand our knowledge on the role of plant hormones in key nutrient acquiring plant-microbe symbioses.
As travel opens up around Australia I also look forward to more face to face meetings and seeing collaborations in the laboratory, glasshouse and field ramp-up.
Here’s to a great year of research ahead,
Associate Professor Eloise Foo
Chief Investigator and Outreach Leader, University of Tasmania