Dr Madeline Mitchell

Dr Madeline Mitchell

Dr Madeline Mitchell

Director, Agrifood

Breakthrough Victoria

If you enjoy living in houses, wearing clothes and eating, you should probably give thanks to plants – and their human helpers – for turning sunlight, water and air into wood, fibres and food.

Madeline is a professional plant appreciator, interested in the economic, social and environmental sustainability of agriculture. She is currently Director, Agrifood at Breakthrough Victoria, an independent company that manages a $2 billion investment fund set up by the Victorian Government to make Victoria a global innovation leader.

Prior to this, she worked at Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre and RMIT University where she lead a research program to support farmers to manage their natural capital (e.g. plants and animals, carbon, soil and water) for sustainability, profitability and climate resilience.

Madeline has a PhD in plant sciences from the University of Cambridge where she contributed to an international collaboration to increase crop yields by reengineering photosynthesis. She joined CSIRO in 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow and helped develop novel vegetable oil crops, which are now in field trials. She then led a synthetic biology project to enhance cotton fibre properties to make renewable and biodegradable alternatives to artificial fibres.

Madeline enjoys mentoring and connecting with the next generation of scientists. She has been a tutor and demonstrator in settings ranging from university practical classes and residential colleges to a homework club for disadvantaged students. She is an advocate for gender equity, inclusion and diversity in STEMM and was part of the second cohort of Homeward Bound, a global leadership initiative for women in science. She also recently received an ACT Young Tall Poppy Award.