Karen’s research is focused on the improvement of cereal crops using genomic and biotechnological tools, enhancing their qualities and performance for the food and feed industries. Her work utilises the targeted and precise manipulation of genes and their networks in hopes of further understanding these complex systems and concurrently expediting genetic gains for seamless integration into breeding programs. As a post-doctoral researcher, she is currently modulating the branching patterns in a variety of cereal crops to understand and improve their drought tolerance strategies, with dreams of advancing these initiatives to be able to tweak the design of crops to be tailored for specific environments. Karen is a strong advocate for the benefits of biotechnology and GM plants for sustainable food uses.

Researcher biography

Karen is a Research Fellow in QAAFI at the University of Queensland whose research group is focused on the improvement of crops using genomic and biotechnological tools. She began her scientific journey through obtaining an Honours BSc in Pharmaceutical sciences (Genomics) from the University Ottawa where her honours focused on the impact of RNA stability in cold-treated wheat seedlings. From there she joined Ian Godwin's group in SAFS at UQ to start her PhD in developing and optimising biotechnological tools in sorghum to understand food and feed quality. As a research fellow, she has applied these initiatives to numerous tropical grain crops and using these tools to study a range of traits focused on understanding key developmental pathways.