Professor Rana Munns received her PhD from the University of Sydney in 1972 at the CSIRO Plant Physiology Unit, and continued her research on stress tolerance in plants at Macquarie University, the University of Western Australia and then at CSIRO in Canberra. In 2007 she was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. She is now Emeritus Professor jointly in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Biology and the School of Plant Biology at the University of Western Australia, as well as Honorary Fellow at CSIRO Agriculture in Canberra.
She is recognised internationally for her insights into the fundamental principles of crop adaptation to salinity, and for applications of these insights.
Professor Rana Munns has focussed on mechanisms of adaptations to drought and salinity stress. She characterised the critical plant processes involved in tolerance of salinity, and showed what distinguishes salinity stress from drought stress. This work produced a highly sensitive technique for identifying salt tolerant plants, and the discovery of important genes for sodium exclusion. She led a research team on the genetic and physiological basis of salt tolerance in durum wheat, which resulted in developing a breeding line which yields 25% more than its parent on saline soils