Tim Colmer

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

  • The University of Western Australia (M464), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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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.

Roles and responsibilities

The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor works with the Vice-Chancellor, and as a member of the UWA Executive Team, to provide leadership and management of the UWA College of Schools. The SDVC works collaboratively with the Heads of Schools to ensure alignment of resources and academic initiatives in the delivery of the University's strategic plan. The initiatives in Schools are supported by close interactions with leaders and staff in the various directorates and portfolios at UWA, and benefit from our strong relationships with other organisations and community members.

Board Member of Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (2022).

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.

Involved in various NCRIS funding proposals as PVCR, and in assisting some research funding initiatives as DVCR.

Previous positions

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research (Dec 2019-Dec 2021)

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

Plant Physiology, especially plant responses and adaptations to adverse environments in agricultural and natural systems in the context of solving problems. Inter-disciplinary approaches to problem solving are emphasised. Evaluation of the scientific literature and group discussions are used as teaching tools. Laboratory- and field-based teaching provides hands-on experience in techniques, experimental design, and data interpretation and science communication. I am currently not teaching, but previously taught and jointly coordinated units in Biology (Level 1), Plant Physiology (Level 2), Plant Ecophysiology (Level 3), and International Agriculture Research & Development (Level 4). I previously supervised research project students (Honours & Masters) and MSc and PhD researchers.


Focus was on the identification of physiological and biochemical traits associated with plant adaptation to salinity and flooding, and the regulation of these traits. Research ranged from cellular to eco-physiological processes since the elucidation of mechanisms at several levels of organisation is essential to gain an integrative understanding of whole plant adaptation. Collaborative, multi-disciplinary research involved many students (PhD/MSc/Master&Hons projects) and partnerships with key Local, National and International scientists.

Research on flooding stress focused on anoxia tolerance using rice coleoptiles as a model system, and on oxygen movement in the aerenchyma in roots of crops, pasture species, and wetland plants. Research on salt tolerance focused 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 was also a research theme in collaboration with a soil scientist.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

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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