Tim Colmer

Professor, BSc(Agric) W.Aust., PhD Calif.

  • The University of Western Australia (M460), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 1.032, Agriculture North Wing, Faculty of Science, Perth Campus

    6009 Perth


  • The University of Western Australia (M460), 35 Stirling Highway, Room 1.032, Agriculture North Wing, Faculty of Science, Perth Campus

    6009 Perth


  • Source: Scopus
  • Calculated using citation counts from Scopus for publications in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository
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Personal profile


PhD in Plant Biology (1994) University of California (Davis)

BSc. Agric. First Class Honours (1990) The University of Western Australia

Plant physiologist with expertise in abiotic stress tolerance, especially salinity, drought, waterlogging and submergence stress.

Teaching & Research Academic at UWA since 1995. Head of School of Plant Biology (2013-15). Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor Research (Aug 2018-Nov 2019). Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research (Dec 2019-present).

Roles and responsibilities

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) works collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders to develop and implement research strategies and initiatives.

Contributions to several boards/participant councils overseeing national research infrastructure and collaborative research joint ventures.

Joint supervisor of PhD research students completing projects on abiotic stress tolerance of several crop species.

Australasian Editor of Annals of Botany (2001-present).

Funding overview

Research in my laboratory has been supported by a series of competitive grants from: ARC-Discovery, ARC-ITRH, ARC-Linkage, GRDC (including via Salinity CRC and FFI CRC), HAL, ACIAR, Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, and others.

Previous positions

Acting Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research (Aug 2018-Nov 2019)

Coordinator of Master of Agricultural Science (2014-2018)

Head, School of Plant Biology (2013-2015)

Postgraduate Coordinator, School of Plant Biology (2010-2013)

Deputy Head, School of Plant Biology (2009-2012)

Associate Dean, Teaching & Learning, Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Sciences (2005-2007)

Handling Editor of Journal of Experimental Botany (2011-2020)

President of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists (2013 & 2014)

International Committee of the International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis (2003-2016)


Teaching overview

My teaching focus has been Plant Physiology. Plant responses and adaptations to adverse environments has been a key topic. The relevance of adaptations to plants in appropriate agricultural and natural systems are considered in the context of solving problems in these management systems. Inter-disciplinary approaches to problem solving are emphasised. Evaluations of the current scientific literature and group discussions are used as teaching tools. Laboratory- and field-based teaching is of importance, since I am convinced that hands-on experience is valuable to students learning plant science. I have taught in, and jointly coordinated, units in Biology (Level 1), Plant Physiology (Level 2), Plant Ecophysiology (Level 3), and International Agriculture Research & Development (Level 4). I have supervised research project students (Honours & Masters) and MSc and PhD researchers.


The research focus in my laboratory is on the identification of physiological and biochemical traits associated with plant adaptation to salinity and flooding, and the regulation of these traits. Research ranges from cellular to eco-physiological processes, since I consider that elucidation of mechanisms at several levels of organisation is essential to gain an integrative understanding of whole plant adaptation. Collaborative, multi-disciplinary research in my laboratory involves PhD students, and we have established projects with key Local, National and International scientists. Research on flooding stress has focused on anoxia tolerance using rice coleoptiles as a model system, and on oxygen movement in the aerenchyma in roots of crops (esp. rice and wheat), pasture species, and wetland plants (including ‘wild’ Triticeae). Research on salt resistance focuses on the regulation of tissue concentrations of organic solutes and Na and Cl in wheat and its wild relatives, pasture species, and Australian halophytes. Nutrient and water management in turf with Louise Barton (soil scientist).

Research student supervision: I have supervised 34 PhD students, 2 MSc, and 32 Fourth year/Honours projects to completion in my laboratory. PhD students have been successful in the publication of papers in high-quality international peer-reviewed journals and they have obtained positions in their chosen career. Three PhD students have been awarded distinctions by the Graduate Research School.

Industry keywords

  • Agriculture and Food

Research expertise keywords

  • Physiology of plant roots
  • Plant physiology/ecology
  • Salinity and flooding tolerance in crops and halophytes
  • Water and nutrient management in turf


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