Alonso Zavaleta Fernández de Córdova

My name is Alonso (Zavafer) Zavaleta Fernández de Córdova and am currently an Assistant Professor at Brock University, Canada and a Research Associate at the Australian National University (ANU). I am a biophysicist and instrument developer focusing in the field of phenomics (phenotype driven research of genotypes). I completed my PhD in Plant Sciences (ANU, 2016) and hold a Bachelor of Science (grade 9.8/10, Autonomous National University of Mexico). My initial research interest focused on basic research but branched into applied topics. My first research outputs were on photo-oxidative stress in plants and demonstrated the existence of multiple photosensitisers in photosynthetic organisms. This was important, since light is indispensable for plants to survive, yet it can also damage them and impact their fitness. With LEDs becoming the new standard light sources, the existence of such photosensitisers can compromise growth if precautions are not taken. My research has revealed that photodamage in algae and plants is higher at the blue-UV region. This makes blue LEDs, as well as white LEDs (which are based on blue LEDs), hazardous for use in controlled environments at high irradiances and demonstrates that they seldom mimic sunlight adequately. Thanks to my solid basic research training, I have branched in an applied line focusing on optical methods and instruments for phenomic research. The solid knowledge on techniques and methods to probe stress in plants in a non-invasive manner has allowed me to develop new sensory techniques.

I have four years of postdoctoral experience in academia and industry with 13 published/accepted articles, of which I am first/corresponding author in eleven and middle author in two. In addition, I have obtained over 350,000 USD in grants and fellowships. I have experience supervising students at different levels, including PhD. I have a comprehensive international experience (four postdoctoral positions at Australian National U., Technion, U. Technology Sydney, and yet again at ANU) and an international network of collaborators in 11 countries. In addition to the postdoctoral experience, I spent part of my PhD at the Laboratory of Biophysics, Wageningen University (Netherlands), and the School of Material Sciences, University of Nagoya (Japan). Besides, my honours research project was developed at the Laboratory of Bioenergetics, University of Geneva (Switzerland). I have been guest speaker at other institutions, the most recent being a lecture on instruments development for science students at Pepperdine University (September 2020). I am also a guest editor in two journals, Photosynthesis Research and Functional Plant Biology.

Research interests


Open Instrumentation

Optics and Bioptics


Algal Biology

  • Iermak, I, Szabo, M & Zavaleta Fernandez de Cordova, A 2020, 'Analysis of OJIP transients during photoinactivation of photosystem II indicates the presence of multiple photosensitizers in vivo and in vitro', Photosynthetica, vol. 58, no. 2, pp. 497-506.
  • Bates, H, Zavaleta Fernandez de Cordova, A, Szabo, M et al. 2020, 'The Phenobottle, an open-source photobioreactor platform for environmental simulation', Algal Research, vol. 52, no. -, pp. -.
  • Zavaleta Fernandez de Cordova, A, Iermak, I, Cheah, M et al. 2019, 'Two Quenchers Formed During Photodamage of Phostosystem II and The Role of One Quencher in Preemptive Photoprotection', Scientific Reports, vol. 9, no. 0.
  • Zavaleta Fernandez De Cordova, A, Koinuma, W, Chow, W et al 2017, 'Mechanism of Photodamage of the Oxygen Evolving Mn Cluster of Photosystem II by Excessive Light Energy', Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 8pp..
  • Szabo, M, Larkum, A, Suggett, D et al 2017, 'Non-intrusive assessment of photosystem II and photosystem I in whole coral tissues', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 4, no. AUG, pp. 269 (12pp).
  • Osmond, C, Chow, W, Wyber, R et al 2017, 'Relative functional and optical absorption cross-sections of PSII and other photosynthetic parameters monitored in situ,at a distance with a time resolution of a few seconds, using aprototype light induced fluorescence transient (LIFT) device', Functional Plant Biology, vol. 44, pp. 985-1006pp.
  • Zavaleta Fernandez De Cordova, A, Cheah, M, Hillier, W et al 2015, 'Photodamage to the oxygen evolving complex of photosystem II by visible light', Scientific Reports, vol. 5, pp. 16363-16363.
  • Zavaleta Fernandez De Cordova, A, Chow, W & Cheah, M 2015, 'The action spectrum of Photosystem II photoinactivation in visible light', Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, vol. 152, pp. 247-260.