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Last update: May 2021

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Joanna Melonek

2018 Early Career Awardee

Joanna Melonek
Joanna Melonek was awarded an IWGSC Early Career Award and received her award at the Plant & Animal Genome Conference (PAG) in San Diego, California (USA) in January 2018. Joanna also received a travel stipend that allowed her to travel to the PAG conference to present a talk during the IWGSC main workshop on Saturday 13 January 2018.

Joanna Melonek is currently a research fellow in the laboratory of Professor Ian Small at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology at the University of Western Australia.

After obtaining her Master’s degree in Poland, Joanna moved to Kiel in Germany where she completed her PhD studies at the Botanical Institute, in the group of Professor Karin Krupinska of the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel.

We caught up with Joanna to discuss her award, her research and her plans for the future.

A few words about your work

Joanna Melonek award at PAG 2018

Kellye Eversole and Joanna Melonek

I study an exciting family of RNA-binding factors referred to as pentatricopeptide repeat (PPR) proteins, in plants. I’m particularly interested in a sub-set of PPRs called restorer of fertility proteins as they have potential application in hybrid crop breeding. Hybrid crop varieties typically produce higher and more stable yields under changing environmental conditions. As such, this research into molecular tools for hybrid crop production could help in meeting the future food demands for our growing human population.

Why did you apply for the IWGSC Early Career Award?

Last year, in collaboration with Dr. Nils Stein and Dr. Ruonan Zhou at the Leibniz-Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research in Gatersleben, Germany, Prof. Small and I became involved in the annotation of PPR genes in the wheat IWGSC RefSeq v1.0 reference genome sequence. I applied for the IWGSC Early Career Award to support an opportunity for me to showcase our findings on the PPR family to the international wheat genomics and broader scientific community.


In what way do you think being recipient of the IWGSC Early Career Award could help you in your career?

The IWGSC Early Career Award and travel stipend will facilitate my attendance at the IWGSC workshop and the Plant and Animal Genome (PAG) conference, giving me an extraordinary opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with experts in the field of cereal genomics. I also plan to attend the annual Women in Genomics dinner, a unique opportunity for me to network with international female scientists from the field of genomics.

What are your career plans?

In the future I hope to continue my work on cereal genomics, in particular PPR-mediated restoration of fertility and the application of this to hybrid crop breeding. This research will be valuable, not only to the scientific community, but to plant breeders looking to develop new hybrid varieties, particularly in globally significant crops where hybrids have historically been difficult to create, such as wheat and barley.

More information

Joanna presentation at PAG 2018 took place during the IWGSC workshop on Saturday 13 January. Her presentation was entitled: "Characterisation of the pentatricopeptide repeat protein family in the wheat IWGSC RefSeq v1.0 reference genome".