Originally from Germany, Philipp Bayer has called Perth home for two years, and will soon be one of Forrest Hall’s first occupants.
The Research Associate from the School of Biological Sciences works in plant genomics, a rapidly evolving field of study.
“My PhD focused on the computational side of plant breeding, and I continue this stream of work now.
“Essentially I use computers to answer biological questions. I am especially interested in the affects climate change is having on canola and wheat, and finding novel resistance genes in plants that will assist breeding programs.
“With an ever-growing population we need to double food production by 2050 but for most major crops it looks like we will only increase yield by 50 per cent if we do not change our approach,” Philipp says.
In a rapidly moving field, new technology means more and more data can be processed at faster speeds than ever before.
“We’re processing tera- to petabytes (1000 terabytes) of data. The challenge is being able to make sense of this huge amount of data.
“What’s also challenging is that plant genomes are more complex and often much bigger than humans, or bacteria and fungi.
“We’re at the beginning of the journey, but it’s an exciting one to be on, and I hope my research can help tackle the issue of food production,” Philipp says.
As you can imagine, Philipp is a whizz on a computer and spends a lot of time supervising PhD and Masters students, teaching at workshops, and running the weekly Hacky Hour at UWA where people bring their code and data problems and enlist the group for help.
“I really enjoy the teaching aspect of my job and I’m really pleased that as part of my Fellowship I can dedicate one day a week to these activities.
“I believe in teaching others since knowledge stored in one location is lost easily,” Philipp says.
If all that isn’t enough, Philipp is also the co-founder of openSNP, a website which allows customers of genetic tests such as 23andMe.com and Ancestry.com, to share their data with the scientific community and learn more about their results.
And of course he’s finding time to pack up the house he shares with his wife and toddler for the impending move to Forrest Hall in February.
“The accommodation is fantastic, and you just can’t beat the view we’ll wake up to each morning,” Philipp says.