Blossoming in Botany

Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Germany

PhD (Botany) 2003

Minimum $55,000
Maximum $75,000
Average $60,000 p.a.

THE story of this UQ PhD graduate proves a background in Science can catapult you to destinations all over the world.

After graduating with a PhD in botany from UQ in 2003, Matt Humphry’s career has taken him from Australia to a range of overseas countries including the US and Germany.

Currently, he holds a postdoctoral fellow position at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in the history-steeped city of Cologne in Germany.

His research is focused on a small, flowering plant named Arabidopsis thaliana, and, more specifically, the genetic basis of its defenses against non-adapted fungal pathogens, or diseases. 

“I am investigating gene networks that are involved in these plant defenses and how they have evolved from other developmental processes in higher plants,” Matt explains.

“The idea is that we can perhaps utilise this very effective form of resistance to produce more resistant crop species in the world.”

Matt says the opportunity to participate in this potentially revolutionary research would have been impossible without his UQ qualifications.

“Many people who I met through UQ have been instrumental in allowing me to come into contact with the people that I work with now,” he says.

“Had I not done my PhD at UQ, I am certain I would not have visited and worked at the institutes I have.”

Besides living and working all over the world, Matt finds his career in research thoroughly rewarding.

“I think the most interesting aspect of my job is the possibility of finding out new things every day,” he says.

“It’s when you find something exciting that no one else has discovered that I appreciate most about what I do.

“Seeing all that work down in print in a recognised journal makes the hard work to get it there very worthwhile."

Matt’s advice to students is to plan ahead, but “not to worry”.

“Life will find a way to sort things out,” he says.

“You never know where one chance or small decision will take you as it has me.”