Distinguished Australian plant scientist Professor Rana Munns was awarded the 2018 Ralph Slatyer Medal for outstanding biological research on Wednesday May 30.
The medal is awarded by The Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Biology to commemorate the late Emeritus Professor Ralph Slatyer, the first Chief Scientist of Australia, a renowned scientist and former Director of the Research School of Biological Sciences at ANU.
Professor Munns is being recognised for her research on crop production on dry or saline soils.
“I am deeply honoured to win the Ralph Slatyer award for 2018, in the name of such an eminent plant scientist who did so much for science in Australia,” said Professor Munns.
Director of the ANU Research School of Biology Professor Allen Rodrigo said that the School is delighted to award Professor Munns the Ralph Slatyer Medal for her past and ongoing contributions to the biological sciences.
“Professor Rana Munns is a distinguished plant physiologist. A measure of her influence is the frequency with which her research has been cited by others – her work has been cited more than 36,000 times!” Professor Rodrigo said.
Professor Munns, who works at CSIRO and the University of Western Australia, identified genes that confer greater tolerance to salinity in soils, and led a research team that bred lines of durum wheat which yielded 25 per cent more grain on saline soils.
“From the scientific point of view, this is a biological problem of great relevance to Australia,” said Professor John Evans, of the ANU Research School of Biology. “It is important in Australia but also worldwide - internationally there is huge interest in her work.”
Professor Munns also has a passion for education, and is very active in developing and promoting the free online textbook ‘Plants in Action’.
The Ralph Slatyer Medal is awarded annually to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to biological research. The awardee must be an Australian citizen or resident, or their research must be relevant to Australia.