The Fenner Medal recognises outstanding contributions to science by the late Professor FJ Fenner, AC, CMG, MBE, MD, FAA, FRS. Its purpose is to recognise distinguished research in biology (excluding the biomedical sciences) by researchers up to 15 years post PhD in the calendar year of nomination, except in the case of significant interruptions to a research career. The award is made annually and is restricted to candidates who are normally resident in Australia and for research conducted mainly in Australia.
In 2013, Uli Mathesius won the 2013 Fenner Medal for research in biology (excluding the biomedical sciences), an Early career award for researchers under the age of 40. Ulrike’s research focuses on how soil microbes shape the plant. She developed and applied techniques at a molecular, cellular and whole plant level to define mechanisms that symbiotic and pathogenic organisms use to manipulate plant development. A central idea of her work is that microbes have ‘hijacked’ plant signalling pathways for their own purposes. This has implications for utilising microbes to alter crop plant performance and for trying to develop nitrogen-fixing symbioses in non-legumes.