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Rebecca

Rebecca JONES

Year of Award: 2010 Award State: Tasmania Science > Biology
To visit centres of Eucalyptus research to learn techniques for the analysis of the Eucalyptus genome sequence - UK, France, USA
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It may sound strange that an Australian scientist would go overseas to learn more about eucalypts, but that’s exactly what Rebecca did. In 2010 the genome sequence of Eucalyptus grandis was released, and the sequence of the Tasmanian floral emblem, E. globulus, followed soon afterwards. Even though eucalypts are native to Australia, the genomes were sequenced overseas and many international laboratories are conducting cutting-edge research using the Eucalyptus genome. Bioinformatics is the interface of biology and computing; as all the genome sequence data becomes available, biologists need computing skills to transform the code to something biologically meaningful. For her Churchill Fellowship, Rebecca attended a course in the UK and visited laboratories in France and the USA to learn techniques for the analysis of the Eucalyptus genome sequence; investigate the research potential of genomic resources; and build collaborations with the key international laboratories working with the Eucalyptus genome.

During the Fellowship Rebecca conducted hands-on eucalypt genomics data analysis with scientists at INRA Toulouse, Oregon State University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

As a direct result of the work conducted at Oregon State University, she was invited to co-author two scientific publications: one on eucalypt flowering genes involving 15 scientists from five countries, and the other describing the Eucalyptus genome, which was published in the highly prestigious journal Nature in 2014. She used the Fellowship to strengthen her existing collaboration with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (with whom she also published in 2014), and she is now collaborating with researchers she met at INRA Toulouse in efforts to sequence the Tasmanian cider gum, E. gunnii.

Rebecca still works as a eucalypt geneticist at the University of Tasmania and has continued to develop collaborations in the field of eucalypt genomics, publishing and applying for grants with scientists she met while on her Fellowship. She has publicised her Fellowship outcomes and the Trust through seminars, undergraduate lectures, public talks and social media.

She juggles her scientific career with a cider business on the side: Rebecca and her partner, cidermaker Mark Robertson, are co-owners of Lost Pippin cider in the Coal Valley and attend markets, festivals and events around Tasmania. Life is busy as they also had their first child, Annie, in 2014.

Excerpt from “Bringing Knowledge Home” published by the Churchill Fellows Association of Tasmania (2016) 

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