Professor Rachel Burton is based at the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide where she is currently Head of the Plant Science Department and a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. She is a plant scientist and molecular biologist, passionate about plant cell walls and all the useful things they can do for us. She is interested in the ways that the cell wall components are made and put together but even more intrigued by how they are disassembled or fermented in the human gut, because they are the crucial dietary fibre part of our diets. Rachel is also interested in renewable biofuels, another excellent use for plant cell walls, and believes that making use of all the varied plant feedstocks on the planet, many of them perceived as waste, will be fundamentally important to meeting our future energy needs. In recent years Rachel has directed her research efforts towards the development of emerging crops such as Plantago (psyllium), chia and hemp.
Rachel is one of the 30 inaugural Superstars of STEM, a program founded by Science and Technology Australia (STA) to promote the participation and engagement of young people, particularly women, in STEM fields. She has recently joined STA as a Board member and is an active mentor in a number of programs. She loves participating in outreach and science communication events and has starred in a “Pint of Science” with giant DNA and an interpretive dance, in “The Poet’s Guide to Science” in the Adelaide Fringe and several Science Nation events, including “For the love of Science” where her unsuspecting partner got dragged into the proceedings. She can be found Tweeting at @porridgepusher and her researcher profile is available at https://researchers.adelaide.edu.au/profile/rachel.burton