Professor Robert Henry

Professor Robert Henry

Robert Henry, is Professor of Innovation in Agriculture and Director of QAAFI

Before being appointed QAAFI Director in May 2010, he was Director of the Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics at Southern Cross University, a centre which he established in 1996. Other previous positions held by Professor Henry include Research Director of the Grain Foods Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) (until 2010) and Research Program Leader in the Queensland Agricultural Biotechnology Centre (until 1996).

Some of his earlier roles include: working with CSIRO on fruit and vegetable biochemistry; a Cereal Chemist with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, including research into the quality of malt and barley for brewing; a Senior Principal Scientist with the Queensland Wheat Research Institute, where he played a major role in grain quality research, and a Post Doctoral fellow working on cell biology and genetics at the National Institute of Agrobiological Resources in Japan.

Professor Henry’s speciality research area is the study of agricultural crops using molecular tools. He is particularly interested in Australian flora and plants of economic and social importance and has led the way in research into genome sequencing to capture novel genetic resources for the diversification of food crops to deliver improved food products.  

 His work has included the study of DNA-based methods for identification of plants and their pathogens, the development of molecular markers for plant breeding and the genetic transformation of plants. A common focus of much of this work has been the application of DNA technology to the improvement of the quality of crops and agricultural and food products. Analysis of wild-plant populations, especially in Australia, has been used to support their conservation and use in agriculture or forestry. He has also played a significant part in the development of internationally significant methods for the analysis of plant carbohydrates (sugars, starch and cell-wall polysaccharides).

He has played key roles in research funding agencies working with Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC, including a term as a board member), Sugar Research and Development Corporation (SRDC) and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) committees. He has also been active in the establishment and management of several Cooperative Research centres (CRCs).



My research seeks to improve food and energy security by applying biochemical and molecular tools to the development of improved crop varieties. This research involves analysis of domesticated crops, wild relatives of crop species and potential new crop species.

Research aims to define the basis of human selection for quality in food and non-food crops. These traits are critical to satisfying food and energy security because new plant varieties that may have higher yields may not be accepted for production by farmers if they fail to meet consumer expectations of quality and as a result are not marketable.

Current research focuses on the major global food crops, rice and wheat, the leading current and potential energy crops, sugarcane and eucalypts and high-value crops such as macadamia and coffee.
Analysis of nutritional and functional characteristics ranges from determination of human preferences for properties of foods from bread to coffee and the chemical composition that determines the suitability of plant biomass for biofuel or biomaterial production.

Whole genome sequencing and targeted sequencing of the functional parts of the genome allow associations between genetic variation and important traits to be established. Chemical and biochemical dissection of vital traits is facilitated by linking genetic variation at the whole genome level to function at the biochemical and molecular level.

Professor Henry has written and edited several books on plant molecular biology and product quality and published more than 250 peer reviewed scientific papers and more than 500 national and international conference papers. The ISI has identified him as one of the most cited scientists in agriculture in the international scientific literature during the past 20 years. He was made a fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI) in 1993, was Chair of the, RACI, Cereal Chemistry Division and received the Guthrie Award in 2000. He became a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) in 2013.

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Link to  Prof. Robert Henry's Google Scholar listing


Within Australia

Tel: (07) 3346 0552
Fax: (07) 3346 0555


Tel: +61 7 3346 6552
Fax: +61 7 3346 0555

Annie Morley
Executive Assistant to Professor Robert Henry
Director of QAAFI
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
Room 3307, Level 3, The John Hay Building, Queensland Biosciences Precinct [#80]
Postal: 306 Carmody Road
The University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4072
Tel: +61 7 3346 0552/ Fax: +61 7 3346 0555


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