James Whelan obtained his BSc and PhD degrees from University College Dublin, then spent five years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Australian National University before being appointed as a lecturer at The University of Western Australia in 1995. In 2013 he was appointed Professor of AgriBioscience at La Trobe University. He also holds a foreign expert professorship at Zheijang University, China, and an honorary doctorate from Stockholm University. He played an important role in establishing the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and is currently research director of AgriBio at La Trobe University.
Jim has two primary research areas, mitochondrial biogenesis and function and phosphate nutrition in plants.
Jim investigates mitochondrial biogenesis and the role of mitochondrial signaling in plant stress responses. His research has uncovered the fundamental science behind regulation of mitochondrial signaling and interactions between mitochondrial and chloroplast retrograde signaling. Research on mitochondrial biogenesis has uncovered a previously unknown role for mitochondria in defining the timing of germination.
Jim takes a genomic and cell specific view of researching how plants respond to sub-optimal levels of phosphate for growth. This work spans model and crop species and his work has uncovered many novel regulators of Pi acquisition and response in plants.