Jenny Mortimer is Associate Professor of Plant Synthetic Biology at the University of Adelaide (UoA), Australia, in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine & The Waite Research Institute. She is Chief Investigator (CI) and UoA node leader on the newly formed ARC Centre of Excellence Plants for Space (P4S). She is also an Affiliate Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA, and a Director of Plant Systems Biology at the Joint BioEnergy Institute, USA. After completing her PhD at Cambridge University, UK, she began exploring how engineering the plant cell wall could deliver sustainable and economically viable biofuels: first as a postdoc in Cambridge, then as a research fellow at RIKEN Japan, before joining Berkeley Lab in 2014, and Adelaide in 2021. Her team’s research focuses on understanding and manipulating plant cell metabolism, with a focus on complex glycosylation. The goal is to develop crops which contribute to a sustainable and renewable bioeconomy.
At Adelaide, her group is using synthetic biology to develop new crops for food and materials production in controlled growth environments – including for Space settlement (P4S), applying new agricultural biotechnologies to develop resilient field crops as a CI in the ARC Training Centre for Future Crops Development, and developing Australian feedstocks for sustainable jet fuel as a CI in ARC Research Hub for Engineering Plants to Replace Fossil Carbon. In the US, her group works to reengineer the plant cell wall for the sustainable production of fuels and biochemicals from biomass, and to enhance plant-microbiome interactions for sustainable biomass crop production. She was selected as a World Economic Forum Young Scientist (2016/17), where she contributed to the WEF Code of Ethics for Researchers (widgets.weforum.org/coe), and she is an editor for the journals Plant Cell Physiology and Plant Cell Reports.