Professor Rana Munns, an eminent Australian plant scientist who works on increased crop production on dry or saline soils has been awarded the Ralph Slatyer Medal for outstanding biological research for 2018.
The medal is awarded annually by The Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Biology. It commemorates the late Emeritus Professor Ralph Slatyer, who was a distinguished scientist, a former Director of the Research School of Biological Sciences at ANU and the first Chief Scientist of Australia.
“I am deeply honoured to win the Ralph Slatyer award for 2018, in the name of such an eminent plant scientist who has done 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 2018 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, of 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 that yielded 25% more grain on saline soils in farmers’ fields.
“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.
The medal was presented at a special ceremony at ANU on Wednesday 30 May 2018, when Professor Munns gave a public lecture on her work.