Professor Rachel Burton moved from the UK to the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide in 1995 for what she thought was a four year postdoctoral position. Over 20 years later she is still there and when asked replies “why leave one of the most beautiful campuses in the world?”
Rachel is a plant scientist and molecular biologist, passionate about plant cell walls and all the useful things they can do for us. She is interested in the ways that the parts of the cell wall are made and put together but even more intrigued by how they are disassembled or fermented in the human gut, because they are the crucial dietary fibre element of our diets.
She is also interested in renewable biofuels and believes that different plant feedstocks will fundamentally underpin this industry.
Rachel runs a group in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology where the culture is one of inclusion, team work and appreciating diversity, and where achievements are celebrated as often as possible with cake! She served as Director of The Plant Accelerator, an NCRIS facility for plant phenotyping, from 2013 to 2015 and is currently Head of the Plant Science Department at the University of Adelaide.
She loves participating in outreach and science communication events and has starred in a Pint of Science with giant DNA and an interpretive dance, in “The Poet’s Guide to Science” in the Adelaide Fringe and several Science Nation events, including “For the love of Science” where her poor partner got dragged into the proceedings. She can be found Tweeting at @porridgepusher.
Rachel has two teenage kids which has given her direct experience juggling parenting with career pressures.