Fascinated by Plants

Art4agriculture’s vision is for business and industry to work alongside education authorities, schools and students to support the learning and development of young people and enable all young Australians to reach their potential. We have a whole of industry vision and collaborate and cross-promote widely through our diverse and extensive communications network.

Today’s guest post comes from Arwen Cross from the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics and one of the team behind Fascination in Plants Day


Antartic Beech

Arwen’s favourite plant is the Antarctic Beech.

She likes their gnarly trunks, but these trees are her special favourite because they have Antarctic in their name. When Arwen was 12 she decided she was going to be a scientist in Antarctica. But when she grew up and became a biochemist she discovered there were no pretty icebergs in her lab. So she decided talking about science would be more fun than doing it, and became a science communicator. She is still waiting to find a job that features icebergs, but in the meantime working with plants at ACPFG is pretty fascinating.

Here is what Arwen has to say about her obsession for all things from the Viridiplantae family  ….  

From peppery smell of eucalyptus on a hot summer’s day, to getting wet feet watering my silverbeet before work – I love plants. That’s why I’m so excited about helping organise Fascination of Plants Day in Australia.

My name’s Arwen, and I’m a science communicator. I work at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics in Adelaide. The scientists here are working hard to make better varieties of wheat and barley for Australian farmers. They’re particularly interested in helping plants tolerate drought and salinity.


Girls in the glasshouse. Monica Ogierman, Alison Hay and Arwen Cross are fascinated by plants.Read some more about Monica and Alison below

My job, as a science communicator, is to help the scientists explain their plant science to other people. But we want to hear what other people think about plants and plant science too! That’s why we’re organising the Fascination of Plants Day video competition.

Australian secondary students have a chance to win $1000 by filming videos about plants or plant science. The videos should be up to 3 minutes in length. If you want more information, or if you’re ready to enter your video, go to www.acpfg.com.au/videocomp

I had fun making a video about the students and scientists here at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. Do you like plants for the same reasons as they do?

Want some inspiration



More about Arwen’s team


I first heard about DNA in grade 10 – I thought it was the coolest thing: a molecule that encodes LIFE! I said to myself “When I grow up, I want to be a molecular biologist and help people”.  After many years of study at The University of Adelaide, I become one, and researched bugs (bacteria) that make people sick. Really sick.  I worked at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital and a lab in Germany as a research scientist.  Now, I’ve ‘seen the light’ and work in the field of plants (get it…field!). I communicate with the community about research ACPFG does on wheat on barley, because these plants are important for our food supply. I also have the privilege of working with our postgraduate students, who will become world-class plant scientists when they grow up. Not a bad way to earn to a living!



Alison fell in love with a horticulturist when she was 19 and since then she’s been surrounded by plants!   She studied Botany at uni and could be found surveying native plants just about anywhere in South Australia, from the arid North to the wetlands of the South East.  She also found out weird things about plants – like they have hormones!  She ended up marrying the horticulturist and whenever they travel they try to visit as many national parks as possible.  Alison’s favourite tree is the giant sequoia. There’s a forest of them in California and some of them are around 3,000 years old!  She also loves tiny little mosses, like the ones that grow in New Zealand.  When she’s not looking at plants in different countries she works as a Research Officer trying to find out how wheat and barley grow in soil when the nutrients are not always in the right proportions!

You can contact the video competition organisers by emailing events@acpfg.com.au