Towards a sustainable future – QAAFI researcher wins scholarship

22 March 2023

QAAFI PhD candidate Tori Millsteed is one of an elite group named as a 2023 Westpac Future Leader for her research on boosting crop yields through genetics. 

The West Australian-born biochemist and environmentalist said she felt very fortunate to be awarded the scholarship, which allowed her to follow her passion to Queensland.

“Agriculture is close to my heart,” she said.

Headshot of Tori Millsteed
PhD candidate and Westpac Future Leader Tori Millsteed

“Growing up as a country kid in regional WA made me acutely aware of sustainability issues in agriculture.

“I have always seen a big gap between food security and needing to produce more food, as well as how damaging it can be to the environment.

“My main goal in getting into this field is trying to bring those two areas together and make agriculture more sustainable.”

She said after completing her undergraduate and master’s degrees at UWA, she was seeking to broaden her network, and QAAFI’s high international ranking in agriculture made it the perfect fit.

“UQ has the most phenomenal researchers in this space in particular.

“The scholarship means that I have been able to move to Queensland to do my studies with complete financial security.

“As well as making my PhD possible, this scholarship will greatly enhance my research capacity and the opportunities I will be able to take up during the next three years of study.”

Ms Millsteed is part of the Henry laboratory at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture which has projects aimed at ensuring food security under climate change.

“It’s a really important goal to have and it’s very exciting to be a part of it,” she said.

She will spend the next three years studying the genetic factors contributing to non-leaf photosynthetic pathways in key cereal crops, principally wheat.

“These pathways seem to be largely responsible for yield and the seed-filling process of plant development, particularly under conditions of plant stress,” she said.

“If we can up-regulate those we could potentially develop more climate change-resilient crops.

“Feeding people in the future and maintaining the environment for the future are the two biggest things at QAAFI and that’s where I would like to be, right at that intersection.”

Media: Tori Millsteed,; QAAFI Comms, Natalie MacGregor,, +61 (0)409 135 651.

Westpac Future Leaders tackling challenges of tomorrow 22 March 2023.