Food Futures Institute

Our Researchers

Our team leads research on the sustainable use of limited land and water resources to produce food, addressing challenges across the full chain of primary food production.


A driven community of researchers

Our team draws on decades of academic and industry experience to deliver focused, translational research that addresses some of our most pressing food environmental challenges.

Professor Peter Davies

Professor Peter Davies is a renowned freshwater scientist with extensive experience in the management and rehabilitation of water ways.

He has published widely in this area, including highly-cited papers in Nature, and developed partnerships and high-performance multidisciplinary research teams to address pressing global challenges in food, water and energy.

Professor Michael Jones

Professor Jones has a distinguished international career spanning Australia, the UK and USA, and is Foundation Director of the WA State Agricultural Biotechnology Centre and Professor of Agricultural Biotechnology. For five years he was a member of ABAC, the Australian Biotechnology Advisory Council, which advised Commonwealth Government ministers on national biotechnology policy.

He recently reviewed agricultural R&D for the Government of Mauritius and advised on the establishment of the Mauritius Biotechnology Institute. He is now a member of the Office of Gene Technology Regulator Expert Reference Panel.

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Professor David Pethick

Professor Pethick is one of the founders of animal production research at Murdoch University. He is an agricultural scientist specialising in biochemistry and livestock nutrition.

Professor David Pethick researches carbohydrate and fat metabolism in sheep, cattle and horses and studies the biochemistry of exercise. He also conducts consumer taste panels to discover the qualities needed for repeat purchase of meat products.

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Professor John Howieson

Professor John Howieson is an internationally recognised expert in sustainable agriculture, specialising in the nitrogen fixation of legume crops.

He has led the discovery program for new pasture and forage legumes in Australian agriculture and is currently on the steering committee to put nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa.

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Professor Chengdao Li

Professor Li is Director of the Western Crop Genetics Alliance, a Joint Venture between Murdoch University and the Western Australia Agriculture Authority.

Professor Li has worked extensively in both Australia and Canada. His research focuses on improving crop breeding efficiency by combining conventional breeding, genomics-assisted breeding, double haploid genetics and most recently, gene editing technologies

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Professor Richard Bell

Professor Bell is Deputy Director of the Centre for Crop and Food Innovation and a specialist in soil fertility and land management. He works nationally and internationally, particularly in the Indo Pacific region.

Professor Bell has published more than 200 refereed articles and much of this work focuses on the mineral nutrition of crop plants, soil management and the rehabilitation of degraded agricultural land. His international research has focused on village scale soil, crop and water management, particularly in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam.

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Professor John Pluske

Professor Pluske conducts research related to the nutrition and digestive physiology of pigs, but has also worked in a number of other monogastric species including dogs, horses and chickens.

Professor Pluske’s other research interests encompass alternatives to antimicrobials in piglet diets, the role of nutrition and the environment in modifying immune function and the gastrointestinal microbiota, feedstuff evaluation, and controlling enteric diseases in pigs without antimicrobials.

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Professor Richard Harper

Professor Harper has a PhD in Soil Sciences, spending over 20 years with the Western Australian Government and Industry working on science and policies to reduce the effects of both increasing soil salinity and climate change in plantations, farms and forests.

Richard has received accolades including being a member of the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Assurance Committee (2015-2016) and is President of the Australian Council of Agricultural Deans.

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Professor Graham Gardner

Professor Gardner’s research is predominantly focused on the impact of selection for growth, leanness and muscling within the sheep and cattle industries.

Professor Gardner is also heavily involved in the development of measurement technologies for determining lean meat yield and eating quality. Most recently he developed an X-ray system for use in determining lamb carcase composition at abattoir chain-speed.

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Associate Professor Vicky Solah

Associate Professor Vicky Solah’s research sits at the interface between food and nutrition science with an emphasis on linkages between food composition and structure, how food is produced and processed, and human nutrition.

Her research is closely aligned with industry in Australia and internationally. Dr Solah is proud to have collaborated on research projects involving food and health in Australia (NHMRC with UWA Perth, Sydney University, CSIRO Canberra), Japan (dairy), China (noodles and oats), Turkey (bulgur), Singapore (steamed bread), India (chapatti) and Canada (viscous polysaccharides and fibre).

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Associate Professor Andrew Thompson

Dr Thompson’s research on sheep production systems has seen him managed many of the national research projects focused on improving lamb survival in Australia over the last 20 years.

His other research interests include reproduction in ewe lambs, developing more ‘easy-care’ sheep that require less labour, understanding the roles of feed intake and whole body energy reserves on potential stocking rate and sensor technologies.

Associate Professor Teresa Collins

Dr Collins is a veterinarian with advanced training in animal welfare, ethics and law, and extensive experience in applied livestock research.

Her research focus is on improving the health and welfare of domestic animals, including livestock, by learning about their behaviour and involving stakeholders to make continuous improvements in management.

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Learn more about our research

Researchers at the Food Futures Institute are tackling some of the world’s biggest problems relating to food production, provenance and security.