Female scientists wearing safety clothing and looking at petri dishes.

“Associate Professor Caitlin Byrt inspecting cell cultures with early career researchers in the ARC Training Centre for Future Crops Development lab. Cell cultures of microorganisms are used in steps towards making new crop varieties.”

Credit: Emily Brissenden

In high school, Caitlin Byrt tried a few jobs during work experience, but nothing really captured her interest.

Caitlin wanted to get “out there” exploring, creating, making a difference and being useful.

After trying a few things out, Caitlin started work experience for a research centre that made her wade through mud collecting and counting methane samples to help explore gas emissions related to climate change. Caitlin got hooked.

Like many other researchers, Caitlin knows climate change is putting pressure on food supply.

“There is a lot to do when dealing with climate change,” says Caitlin but as a research scientist, she can make positive impacts.

“It’s like being a detective. You find a problem, then you get to be creative to find a solution. I love creating things that have never existed before.” Caitlin says.

Now, Caitlin is based at the Australian National University and works with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Future Crops Development – or ‘Future Crops’. Future Crops is creating new foods and training scientists to develop the skills they need to make big discoveries in agriculture and address global food security.

As a kind of engineer for food products of the future, Caitlin works in an ethical environment with emerging technologies to create new crops.

Caitlin and her team are focused on improving the yield and nutritional value of the crops that underpin the energy and protein content of the human diet. This includes creating superior grains that go into bread and pasta. Some of Caitlin’s grains even have the potential to create fantastic sustainable oils.

As a result of her work, Caitlin hopes to develop climate-resilient crops.

“I love being a scientist as it is a real team effort. I get to work with students, industry, researchers, and research organisations to help secure food security for rural communities and our future.”

The ARC supports the highest-quality research and research training and is investing $5 million for the Future Crops centre.

Go Caitlin!

For more information on Future Crops, visit their website here.

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