The University of Western Australia's internationally recognised plant scientist Winthrop Professor Harvey Millar has become the first Australian to win a prestigious American award in its 40-year history.
One of the world's most highly cited plant scientists in recent years, Professor Millar is the 2013 recipient of the Charles Albert Shull Award, which recognises outstanding investigations in the field of plant biology by a scientist younger than 45.
The Shull Award was created in 1971 to honour a founding father of the American Society of Plant Biologists.
Professor Millar was recognised for his impressive body of research on plant mitochondria which allow respiration to occur in plants. According to the Society's award citation, his work on the purification, proteomics, and metabolomics of mitochondria, and on the effects of oxidative stress on mitochondrial proteins, has provided important new insights into plant mitochondrial composition and function.
"In addition, the genome browser developed initially in his research group for proteo-genomic mapping has facilitated collaborative studies that resulted in publication of single-base resolution methylomes for Arabidopsis and humans," the citation said.
Professor Millar, who is Deputy Director at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at UWA, has a passion for proteins and how they work and has built a remarkable career in the 16 years since he graduated from The Australian National University with a PhD in biochemistry.
He has held several research fellowships from the Australian Research Council and won many awards, including the 2012 Fenner Medal awarded by the Australian Academy of Science to recognise distinguished research in biology.
In proteomics, scientists analyse protein products made when genes are switched on and downstream modifications that make them work. This allows researchers to learn about how plants cope with changing environmental conditions and to find genes of interest for drought, flood, salinity or pest tolerance in plants. The proteomics laboratory Professor Millar leads is ranked among the top 25 in the world.