Mat Lewsey is a hands-on lab biologist turned data-crunching genome scientist. He studies how plants perceive and interact with the world around them through regulation of their genes. His lab at the La Trobe Institute for Agriculture and Food (La Trobe University, Australia) is home to a diverse team of engineers, computational biologists, geneticists and more. Their work spans from the fundamental to the applied, involving commercial partners who grow a range of agricultural crops such as cannabis, opium poppies, barley, oats and peas.
Mat completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge with Prof John Carr, studying how plant viruses manipulate host plant biology to favour infection and transmission. He was next a Marie Curie Fellow at the Salk Institute (La Jolla, USA) with Prof Joe Ecker and at the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (Madrid, Spain) with Prof Roberto Solano. His projects at that time focused on applying functional genomics to understand plant hormone biology and small RNA signalling between organs. Mat joined La Trobe University in April 2016 to further his interests in genomics, systems biology and plant science. In 2017 he became Director of the La Trobe Genomics Platform, in 2019 Co-Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Medicinal Agriculture, and in 2020 the Director for Research and Industry Engagement for the School of Life Sciences.
Whilst back in Cambridge, Mat will be hosted by Prof Carr at the Department of Plant Sciences, where he will enjoy applying genomics tools to study plant pathology. He will also spend time with Dr Jennifer Bromley at Vertical Future, a vertical farming and technology company. Together they will study how plants can be adapted for indoor agriculture.