Research Committee

The Australian Orchid Foundation is an Approved Research Institute. The members of the Research Committee, all specialists in Orchidaceae, must be approved by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

All applications for funding are reviewed by the Research Committee who make recommendations to the Directors.

The Australian Orchid Foundation invites applications for grants or support from any person or group who wish to undertake specialised work on any subject that relates to orchids, whether endemic or otherwise. The work must be performed in Australia and/or must relate to the orchids of Australasia.

For further information see Grant Applications


Professor Kingsley Dixon (Director of Science)

Professor Kingsley Dixon was awarded a personal research chair at Curtin University following 32 years at Kings Park and Botanic Garden.  He retains his main areas of orchid research including pollination biology, in vitro propagation, mycorrhizal research and conservation of rare and threatened orchids. He is widely published in the orchid literature and works with orchid biologists at Kew, Missouri Botanic Garden and is a member of the Orchid Specialist Group of the IUCN and co-organiser of the international series of conferences, the International Orchid Conservation Congress.

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Dr Colin C. Bower PhD

Dr. Colin Bower obtained his Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Sydney in 1975. This was followed by 17 years working as a research entomologist for the NSW Department of Agriculture on the development of integrated pest management systems in apples at Bathurst and Orange. He became a Program Leader, a position he held for 10 years from 1992, before becoming a private consultant. He has been absorbed in bushwalking, natural history and nature photography all his adult life, becoming interested in native terrestrial orchids in the late 1970’s. He began studying their pollination in the 1980’s combining his interests in both insects and orchids. His special interest is the sexual deception pollination syndrome in the Bird Orchids of the Chiloglottis alliance and the Spider Orchids, Arachnorchis (Caladenia) on which he has published a number of scientific papers.

His work demonstrated the high degree of pollinator specificity in these orchids, leading to the identification of many new cryptic orchid species. He is currently engaged in a project on the pollinators of threatened sexually deceptive Arachnorchis (Caladenia) species with the aim of developing strategies to improve orchid conservation by identifying and protecting their pollinators.


Dr Mark Clements BSc, Grad Dip Sc, PhD

Dr. Mark Clements is head of the orchid research group at the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research/Australian National Herbarium. He has wide interests in natural history but his main areas of research are the biology, molecular phylogenetics, systematics and mycorrhizal associations within the Orchidaceae, particularly those of the Australasian and Malesian regions.  He has published more than a hundred papers and made major contributions to the recently published CD-Rom version of the interactive key on “Australian Orchid Genera”. He is a former Visiting Research Fellow of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew where he implemented the project on the micro-propagation of endangered European orchids. His current research focus is the Dendrobieae and an orchid recovery plan for two nationally threatened species. He also maintains the ‘Australian Orchid Names Index (AONI)’, including a web version, which provides details of all named native orchid taxa occurring in Australia.


Professor Rod Peakall BSc (Hons), PhD

Rod Peakall is a Professor in Evolutionary Biology at the School of Botany and Zoology, The Australian National University. Orchids have featured strongly, but by no means exclusively, in his research in greater part because their novel pollination systems are ideal for exploring a range of evolutionary questions. This research has provided exciting opportunities for multidisciplinary research spanning reproductive ecology, genetics, phylogeny and chemical ecology. This multidisciplinary approach, combined with the use of innovative tools and experimental design that take advantage of the unique features of orchids, has positioned him as an international leader in the field of orchid evolutionary biology. He has written more than 75 refereed papers, many of which are published in the very best international journals in the field. His orchid research has also been featured in multiple commentaries, reviews and textbooks as well as on TV and radio. He is highly regarded for his enthusiastic and ‘plain English’ seminars leading to regular invitations to present both public and scientific seminars in Australia, USA and Europe. Professor Peakall’s current major research project is investigating the ecological, genetic and phylogenetic evidence for sympatric speciation in Chiloglottis from the multiple perspectives of chemical ecology, population phylogeny, population genetics and reproductive biology. Chiloglottis orchids are pollinated by sexual deception and were chosen as a ‘model’ system because evidence suggested they might provide novel examples of recent sympatric speciation.


Professor Ann Lawrie BSc (Hons), PhD

Professor Ann Lawrie was the Discipline Head of Biosciences at RMIT University and now holds an honorary position as Adjunct Professor in the School of Applied Sciences at RMIT.

Her research interests are in plant microbiology, particularly the use of molecular biology to investigate their interactions. She has conducted research in symbiosis and plant pathology with particular emphasis on soil-borne bacteria and fungi, including orchid mycorrhiza. Her current research is on orchid mycorrhizal fungus nutrition and specificity as well as biocontrol of weedy grasses.

Ann hopes this research will provide a better understanding of soil-plant-microorganisms systems, to be able to predict and control the system better for the benefit of crop and wild plants and the survival of endangered orchids.

Ann’s research maintains active collaborations with colleagues in the government and private sectors, who have co-supervised research students in their projects.


Professor Darren M. Crayn BSc (Hons), PhD

Darren’s research career has involved studies of the origins, evolution and classification of plants and deals broadly with the questions: how many plant species exist, where do they occur, how are they related and how have they evolved? His research is:
– discovering, naming and classifying new plant species and determining the evolutionary relationships among them,
– mapping the distribution of ecosystems, species and genetic variation within species across the landscape,
– developing DNA-based tools and ‘matrix keys’ for species identification and rapid biodiversity inventory
– uncovering the deep-time origins and ancient migration pathways of plants that are found in tropical Australia today.

This research has been undertaken in a broad range of biomes and countries including the Republic of Panama, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. His involvement in orchid research is rather recent, as research leader for a group of postdoctoral and postgraduate scientists working on several major projects including the systematics, biogeography, evolution and molecular identification (DNA barcoding) of the Australian orchids with a focus on the genus Dendrobium and its relatives and mapping the geographical distribution of genetic diversity in tropical mountaintop endemics in the genus Bulbophyllum.

In March 2008 he was appointed the inaugural Director of the Australian Tropical Herbarium, a joint venture between CSIRO, the Queensland Government and James Cook University. Leadership of this dynamic and growing organisation occupies most of his time, with much of the remainder consumed by representative roles. His research time starts on Friday afternoons, about tea time…


Contact us –  

The Australian Orchid Foundation
P.O. Box 96, Drouin, Vic. 3818
Phone: +61 3 5627 6303
Fax:   +61 3 5627 6303
Email: enquiries@www.australianorchidfoundation.org.au