Conjoint Professor Christina E Offler
University of Newcastle, NSW
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Christina E (Tina) Offler completed a Bachelor of Science with 1st Class Honours in 1965 and a PhD in Paleobotany in 1971 from The University of Adelaide. Following her geologist husband to The University of Newcastle, she commenced her academic career as a Tutor in the newly formed Department of Biological Sciences and remained at Newcastle until her retirement in 2007. During her tenure and with the encouragement and mentorship of her colleague John Patrick she transitioned to a plant cell and molecular biologist. Tina contributed to The University of Newcastle as Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Science & IT; Head of the School of Environmental and Life Sciences; and as a strong advocate and mentor for academic women in science. In retirement she maintained this contribution as Academic Champion for the Faculty of Science & IT working with academic staff to enhance student teaching and learning outcomes and as Director of the Management Committee of The University’s Don McNair Herbarium. She was the Editor of Phytogen, the ASPS newsletter from 2009 to 2014.
As a developmental cell biologist, with her long-term collaborator John Patrick, Tina’s research has focused on regulation of membrane transport of nutrients and in particular transfer cells – the plant’s solution to ‘nutrient traffic jams’. Tina developed an experimentally-powerful transfer cell induction system that has underpinned transfer cell research at Newcastle for 30 years. Together she and John have made significant contributions to understanding how and when these fascinating cells differentiate and their impact on enhancing plant growth, reproduction and yield. In retirement their quest for answers is continuing.