Associate Professor Margaret Barbour
ARC Future Fellow, Department of Environmental Sciences
C02F - Centre for Carbon, Water and Food
The University of Sydney
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Margaret Barbour holds a BSc in Biology and Earth Sciences and an MSc in Biology from the University of Waikato, New Zealand, and a PhD in Plant Science from the Australian National University. During her PhD she developed new understanding, and mechanistic models, of variability in the oxygen isotope composition of plant tissue. Her work was the first to theoretically describe and demonstrate the record of leaf evaporative environment present in the oxygen isotope composition of plant material. This work has subsequently been applied to reconstruct past climates from tree ring stable isotopes, as an indicator of plant regulation of water loss, and as a selection tool for yield in grain crops. Margaret was employed by Landcare Research in New Zealand from 2001 to 2009, where she led a Foundation-funded objective investigating the exchange of carbon dioxide in terrestrial systems at site scales, and the sensitivities and uncertainties of these processes to variation in climate, environmental and land-use variables. As part of this objective, Margaret developed a suite of novel, laser-based techniques to measure the exchange of isotopes of CO2 and water vapour between the atmosphere and plants, soil and the whole ecosystem. Margaret was awarded the Outstanding Physiologist of the Year 2006, by the New Zealand Society of Plant Biologists. In 2010 Margaret joined FAFNR as an ARC Future Fellow in Biosphere-atmosphere interactions.
My current research interests include:
- Improving crop water use efficiency and productivity by increasing the rate of diffusion of CO2 within leaves
- Scaling leaf-level exchange processes to the canopy.
- Linking carbon and water cycling within ecosystems using stable isotopes of CO2 and water
- Development of process-based models to interpret the stable isotope record in tree rings
- Development of laser-based measurement systems for real-time measurement of plant, soil and ecosystem isofluxes
My research involves developing and applying new theory and measurement techniques to address issues related to biosphere-atmosphere exchange across a range of scales. I work in controlled-environment growth facilities, managed ecosystems (including cereal crops, pasture and plantation forests), and natural ecosystems such as old-growth forests.
Plant and crop physiology; Climate Change; Food Production, Quality and Safety
PhD and master's project opportunities
- Methane and nitrous oxide in agro-ecological systems: novel technologies and understandings to improve ecosystem management.; Adams M, McBratney A, Barbour M, Whitehead D, Laubach J, Millard P, Jacobson G, Rella C, Crosson E; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Linkage Projects (LP).
- Methane and nitrous oxide in agro-ecological systems: novel technologies and understandings to improve ecosystem management.; Whitehead D, Laubach J, Millard P, Jacobson G, Adams M, McBratney A, Barbour M; BMedical Pty Ltd/ActiCal Equipment Grant.
- Superior water-use efficiency through improved leaf mesophyll conductance; Barbour M; Grains Research and Development Corporation/Research and Development: Gene Discovery.
- Oxygen isotope discrimination during C4 photosynthesis; Von Caemmerer S, Evans J, Barbour M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
- Novel laser isotopic techniques to assess the potential for water-use efficiency improvement of Australian crops; Barbour M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Future Fellowships (FT).