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Dr Ronald Yu

Research Scientist


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As an Agricultural Scientist at CSIRO, I have developed more than 10 years of a global career in Plant Genetics, Molecular Biotechnology, Food and Nutrition, and science communication.

I am developing a healthier cereal crop to reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Cereal grain has a thin outer layer called bran, it accounts for 10% of the grain, but it gives you 70% of important nutrients. Bran is good, big bran is better. I call this “the BigBran Theory”.

Normal rice grain has only one layer of bran. In my research, a single DNA change in one gene increases the rice bran layer from one to five with more iron, zinc, B vitamins, unsaturated fatty acids, dietary fibre, and antioxidants. Following our first success in rice, we are transforming wheat, barley, and sorghum for a bigger bran. Check out my pitch in Ockham’s Razor in ABC Radio National for more information:

My research involves collaborations across two CSIRO business units, Australian National University, and Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Science (IB-CAS) in Beijing. I worked closely with the collaborators in different laboratories to study plant developmental biology, computational biology, and food and nutrition science in Canberra, Adelaide and Beijing. I acquired a wide range of knowledge and skills such as gene editing, plant transgenics, plant cell histology, and nutritional studies of starch, protein, lipid, minerals, vitamins, dietary fibres, and antioxidants in cereal crops such as wheat, barley, rice, sorghum, and teff.

I have demonstrated high intellectual vitality by actively participating in international conferences such as “International Wheat Conference”, “International Association of Plant Biotechnology Congress”, and “Australasian Grain Science Association Conference”. I enjoyed discussions with scientists, leaders and stakeholders coming from a multi-disciplinary, international background. The wide exposure has helped me establish strong networks.

Other Interests

Behind the science, I am interested in science communication. I was the winner in FameLab, a science pitch competition organised by British Council, and the champion in the Three-Minute Thesis Competition in the Science Faculty of Australian National University. Also, I liked to share my knowledge and ideas on science research on ABC Radio National Ockham’s Razor, ABC Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), and “Dr Karl’s science time”

As a corporate citizen, I love sharing my scientific knowledge with the young generations. I mentored a group of 15-16 years old teenagers through the CSIRO Virtual Work Experience Program; visited primary schools for STEM in Schools program; and led five 13-15 years old teenagers to participate the CSIRO CyberTaipan cybersecurity competition.

In addition to my full-time job, I volunteer to be the National Gifted Children Coordinator at Australian Mensa, an international high IQ society. I coordinated nationwide events such as Australian Mensa Kid Conference, GATEWAYS Challenge, CyberTaipan, and BEBRAS Challenge for young Mensans across Australia. It is a wonderful experience to inspire and engage the most brilliant minds in Australia.

Current Roles

  • Agricultural Scientist, Postdoctoral Fellow
    Improve minerals, vitamins, dietary fibres, and antioxidants content in wheat, barley, sorghum, and rice to help tackle the problem of chronic diseases.

  • Reviewer, PeerJ Journal
    To provide feedbacks, suggestions, and improvements to academic article.

  • Reviewer, Frontiers for Young Minds
    To provide feedbacks, suggestions, and improvements to articles in Frontiers for Young Minds.

  • Organising Committee, Early Career Pitch, CSIRO AgCatalyst 2021 Agriculture Conference
    To organise early career pitch competition and share science communication skills with participants

  • National Gifted Children Coordinator, Australian Mensa (Volunteer)
    To coordinate national events in Australian Mensa to inspire and engage the most brilliant minds in Australia

Academic Qualifications

  • 2018

    PhD in Biology
    The Australian National University

  • 2008

    MPhil in Science (Biology)
    Institute of Plant Molecular Biology and Agricultural Biotechnology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

  • 2005

    BSc in Biology
    The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Professional Experiences

  • 2016-2019

    Postdoctoral Fellow

  • 2012-2016

    PhD Fellowship
    The Australian National University

  • 2005-2008

    Mphil in Biology Research Scholarship
    Institute of Plant Molecular Biology and Agricultural Biotechnology, the Chinese University of Hong Kong

Achievements and Awards

  • 2017-2017

    Winner, FameLab NSW Semi-Final
    British Council Australia

  • 2015-2015

    Champion, College of Science, Health, and Medicine
    Australian National University

Other highlights

  • 2020-2020

    “The Big Bran Theory – Ockham’s Razor with Robyn Williams”, radio interview, ABC Radio National

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 2020-2020

    CSIRO Virtual Work Experience Program

  • 2019-2020

    Head Coach, Team Mensa, CSIRO CyberTaipan

  • 2019-2019

    STEM in School, Forrest Primary School, Canberra

  • 2019-2019

    CSIRO Virtual Work Experience Program

  • 2018-2018

    STEM in School, Sts Peter and Paul Primary School, Canberra

  • 2018-2018

    CSIRO Work Experience Program

We have publications by Dr Ronald Yu