The University of Queensland QAAFI

Anna KoltunowProfessor Anna Koltunow

Hy-Gain Project Leader

Professor Anna Koltunow is the Project Leader for Hy-Gain and a Professorial Research Fellow in QAAFI at The University of Queensland.  She has research interests in plant seed and fruit development and is an internationally recognised expert in an asexual form of seed formation in plants called apomixis. She has been involved in collaborative research projects on seed and fruit development with various laboratories in the United States and Europe and has worked with the horticultural industry to develop seedless fruit. Her research on apomixis is being applied to a range of crops where it should significantly economise hybrid seed production.

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Angie StrelowAngie Strelow

Hy-Gain Project Manager

Angie Strelow is the Hy-Gain Project Manager and is responsible for operational and financial aspects of the project.  She has over fifteen years experience providing operational and administrative coordination for a variety of projects.  Angie has been with The University of Queensland for over 10 years working across a range of areas including with QAAFI since 2018. 

David JordanProfessor David Jordan

Deputy Project Leader

Professor David Jordan is the Deputy Project Leader of Hy-Gain and is a Professorial Research Fellow in QAAFI at The University of Queensland.  He is a sorghum breeder and geneticist with more than 20 years experience working in both the public and private sector. For the last decade he has led the public sorghum pre-breeding program in Australia which is a partnership between The University of Queensland (UQ), The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). This is a long running and successful research effort with a reputation for integrating across disciplines and linking research efforts from the strategic to the applied. Breeding lines from this program are widely used commercially in Australia and internationally with 100% of the commercial sorghum grown in Australia having genetics from the program. At the same time the research group continues to produce research papers at the forefront of sorghum research.

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Emma MaceAssociate Professor Emma Mace

Principal Investigator

Associate Professor Emma Mace holds a senior research leadership role at both QAAFI within The University of Queensland and The Queensland Government Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.  Her main research focus is on the development and use of innovative genomics tools to support plant breeding programs, with a focus on grains and in particular sorghum.  She has led the development of a number of critical data resources for both applied and fundamental research in sorghum genetics and genomics that are widely used by sorghum researchers nationally and internationally.

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Brett FergusonAssociate Professor Brett Ferguson

Principal Investigator

Associate Professor Brett Ferguson currently leads the Integrative Legume Research Group (ILRG) in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences (SAFS) and is an Affiliate in QAAFI at The University of Queensland. He has worked with legumes for over 20 years and his research focuses on gene and signal discovery in legumes, with an emphasis on understanding molecular signalling interactions that orchestrate plant development. His work uses modern biotechnology approaches, such as genetic transformation and genome editing (e.g. CRISPR), to functionally characterise genes and networks of interest. 

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Ian GodwinProfessor Ian Godwin

Principal Investigator

Professor Ian Godwin is the Director of the Centre for Crop Science at QAAFI in The University of Queensland.  He has over 30 years experience in plant biotechnology research. Ian leads research in the use of biotechnological tools for crop improvement, with emphasis on the sustainable production of grain crops. Major focus is on the improvement of crops for food, feed and bio-industrial end-uses. He has pioneered the use of GM and gene edited techniques in sorghum. Research projects include international collaborations with a focus on food security and plant genetic resource conservation with collaborators in Germany, Denmark, the United States, China, Ethiopia and Pacific Island countries.

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Dr Barbara George-JaeggliDr Barbara George-Jaeggli

Senior Research Fellow

Dr Barbara George-Jaeggli is a senior researcher with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation and Agri-Science Queensland (DAF). She is a sorghum crop physiologist and mainly studies complex traits and how they contribute to cereal yield improvements. She has recently led the development of data and image analysis pipelines using proximal and remote-sensing to screen such traits in large field trials and enable the discovery of their underlying genes and genetic regions.

Guoquan LiuDr Guoquan Liu

Research Fellow

Dr Guoquan Liu has more than ten years experience in sorghum tissue culture, genetic transformation, and genome editing. He developed a world-class highly efficient sorghum transformation system in 2012. In recent years, he has focused on improving sorghum grain yield and grain quality, capturing heterosis, and renewable energy through biotechnologies including synthetic biology.

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Huanan SuDr Huanan Su

Research Fellow

Dr Huanan Su was a member of the Integrative Legume Research group with The University of Queensland since 2015. He holds a PhD from Citrus Research Institute, Southwest University/Chinese Academy of Agriculture Science, China. Dr Huanan Su mainly focuses on the discovery and functional characterisation of novel genes and signals that manipulate legume development, with developing new molecular biology tools for genome editing and legume transformation.

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Dr Lance MaphosaDr Lance Maphosa

Hy-Gain Research/Lab Manager

Dr Lance Maphosa has over 10 years of research experience primarily focused on agronomy, functional genomics and different omics technologies including phenomics in different cereal, oilseeds and legume crops. He has worked extensively in the private and public sector, on both GM and non-GM glasshouse and field experiments. He joined the Hy-Gain team in 2023 and his role involves lab management, stewardship and interactions with key project stakeholders.

Dr Owen PowellDr Owen Powell

Postdoctoral Fellow (Quantitative Geneticist/Bioinformatician)

Dr Owen Powell is an early career researcher at QAAFI within The University of Queensland where he is developing a unified framework to predict genotype by environment by management (GxExM) interactions for cereal crops. The unified prediction framework integrates classical quantitative genetic models with physiological crop growth models to allow the interrogation of gene-to-phenotype (G2P) relationships relevant for plant breeding. Prior to joining QAAFI, Owen developed stochastic simulations of whole breeding programs to optimize the deployment of genomic selection and increase genetic gain in hybrid crops and low-to-middle income livestock production systems.

Eric PhamEric Pham

Finance Coordinator

Eric Pham is the Hy-Gain Finance Coordinator providing finance and administration support to the project. Previously Eric worked as Management Accountant for QAAFI and has over 10 years of experience working in various finance management positions at The University of Queensland.  Eric was born in Vietnam, completed high school in Canada, graduated from Griffith University with a BCom majoring in accounting. Eric is interested in system integration and automation, and he enjoys using his analytical skills to develop customised management and reporting solutions for research projects. In his spare time Eric likes gardening and preparing a nice home cooked meal.

Colleen HuntColleen Hunt

Senior Biometrician, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Colleen has more than 20 years experience as a biometrician working on Australian plant breeding programs. Since 2005 she has been a senior biometrician in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries primarily responsible for the analysis of all experiments conducted by the DAF/QAAFI sorghum pre-breeding program. Recently she has been focusing her research on developing statistical methods for genomic prediction, genotype by environment interactions and hybrid dominance.

David RodgersDavid Rodgers

Scientific IT Manager

David Rodgers has over 20 years experience in Software development, data management, systems administration and IT support in both the public and private sectors. The majority of this time has been spent working for DAF and QAAFI Crop Sciences supporting cereal grains breeding programs. His main focus has been developing and supporting bespoke database and electronic data capture applications for plant breeding programs. For the last 4 years he has been heavily involved in deploying these software tools in Africa to modernise the Ethiopian plant breeding programs through a Bill and Melinda Gates foundation project.

Sofie PearsonDr Sofie Pearson

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Sofie Pearson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with QAAFI at The University of Queensland. She holds a PhD from Massey University, New Zealand. Her background is in plant genetics and is passionate about improving breeding programmes through statistical genetics and identifying candidate genes underpinning phenotypic variation. The primary focus of Sofie’s current research is understanding the genetic control of heterosis in sorghum and cowpea.

Angela McHardyAngela McHardy

Senior Systems Programmer

Angela McHardy has over 15 years experience working in a number of positions in the public and private sectors in both Australia and New Zealand. She has extensive experience working with clients in a range of industries, including telecommunications, state government, and higher education to manage data as well as identify and develop software and web solutions. Angela is currently developing and maintaining software solutions to support the Hy-Gain project.

Sean Reynolds Massey-ReedSean Reynolds Massey-Reed

Research Technician

Sean Reynolds Massey-Reed is an electronic engineer working in the high throughput phenotyping with Hy-Gain. He works on the collection and processing of data from multiple sensing platforms, both in field and after harvest, to measure traits in sorghum and cowpea as well as assisting the collection of measurements for comparison. Sean also assists in maintenance and commissioning of equipment to support others in their roles.  Originally, Sean joined QAAFI within The University of Queensland in 2018 as part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Translational Photosynthesis.

Nicholas LesterNicholas Lester

Research Assistant

Nicholas Lester has a BSc(Hons) in plant science from UQ. His previous research has focussed on CRISPR-edited sorghum floral architecture mutants, and he has an interest in reproductive developmental biology.

Jasmin DeoJasmin Deo

Research Assistant

Jasmin Deo is a Research Assistant, focused on developing high-yielding, hybrid sorghum and cowpea seed for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.   She has a Master of Molecular Biology degree from the University of Queensland. Her Master’s thesis investigated the impact of PIN genes in CRISPR-edited sorghum lines. Prior to joining UQ, she has worked for ten years as a Research Assistant at Sugar Research Australia on various projects including genetic transformation of sugarcane, tissue culture, commercial production of sugarcane varieties, nitrogen nutrition and genetic control and genomic selection for important traits in sugarcane.

Cassie MartinezCassie Martinez

Administration Officer

Cassie Martinez offers research support to the Sorghum team located in Warwick at the Hermitage Research Facility. Her role includes domestic and international procurement, financial reporting, logistics, travel coordination, IT support and website design, primarily for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation MERCI project. Cassie has 25 years experience in IT and joined The University of Queensland in 2015.

The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) is a research institute of The University of Queensland (UQ), supported by the Queensland Government.   

General enquiries

Hy-Gain Project Manager


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