Professor of Plant Biology and Past Inaugural Head of School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia

I was born on a farm in the Netherlands and completed my undergraduate degree in biology (1976), with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, followed by research projects in plant physiology and microbiology. I finished my PhD degree (1979) at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, working on (cyanide-resistant) plant respiration and effects of flooding. My PhD supervisors were Dr Rinie Hofstra, and Professors Pieter Kuiper and Rienk Brouwer.
After completion of my PhD, I did postdoctoral work at the University of Western Australia, with Professor John Pate, Melbourne University, with Dr Michael Dalling, and the Research School of Biological Science at the Australian National University, with Professor Barry Osmond, working on various aspects of the metabolism and transport of carbon and nitrogen in wheat, white lupins, and a range of other species. After two years as a postdoctoral fellow back in Groningen, I was offered the chair of Ecophysiology at Utrecht University (in 1985).
While in Utrecht, I continued work on plant respiration and started a new program on the physiological basis of variation in plant growth rate and productivity. Twenty eight fascinating theses have come to fruition under my supervision during that great time.
My teaching activities in ecophysiology have led to the completion of a textbook, Plant Physiological Ecology, Springer, New York, just before I moved to UWA. The textbook was translated in both Chinese and Persian. The second, completely revised edition of this book appeared in 2008.
For three years, after my move to UWA, I maintained a fractional appointment at Utrecht University, to promote exchange of students between Utrecht University and UWA and to build collaborative research programs.


  • –present
    Professor and Head of School, University of Western Australia