Prof Steve Swain

Research Director

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Steve started his career working with horticultural crops and the model plant Arabidopsis, and has moved into cereal work after transferring to Canberra in 2009.

Steve received a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Tasmania, Australia, in 1994, and has had postdoctoral experience at RIKEN in Japan and at the University of Minnesota in the USA.

After being recruited to CSIRO in 1999, Steve led the molecular biology component of Plant Industry’s research at the Horticulture site near Mildura in Northwest Victoria. Steve and his team made important scientific discoveries in plant reproductive biology including uncovering new roles for the plant hormone gibberellin in pollen and seed development, and the identification of genes with important roles in abscission and dehiscence. In 2007, he became an Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University.

More recently, Steve's research has focused on using a range of genetic approaches in wheat, including the MAGIC mapping population and forward genetic screens, to investigate the genetic control of inflorescence (spike) development, and how this might be modified to increase yield potential. Steve's research has been published in leading international journals, including The Plant Cell and Nature Plants.

Steve’s current role is Research Director for the ‘Breakthrough Genetic Technologies for Crop Improvement’ program in CSIRO’s Agriculture and Food business. This program has more than 150 staff and affiliates and works with a range of industry partners to identify genetic solutions for important crop production challenges related to improving adaptation and yield, and protecting crops from major diseases and insect pests.

Current Roles

  • Research Director
    Breakthrough Genetic Technologies

Academic Qualifications

  • 1994

    PhD Plant Genetics
    University of Tasmania

Achievements and Awards

  • 2007-present

    Adjunct Professor
    La Trobe University

  • 2008-2009

    Short Term Fellowship
    Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science

  • 1993-1995

    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Science and Technology Agency, Japan

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 2012-2016

    Associate editor Functional Plant Biology

  • 2010-2013

    Member of International Plant Growth Substances Association (IPGSA) council