B. Sc. Hons. class II Division I (Physics), University of NSW, 22 April 1971
Ph. D., University of NSW, 27 April 1978
Cert. High Ed., University of NSW, 1994
1977-1979: Technical Officer (upgraded to Research Associate upon obtaining my PhD) School of Biological Sciences, Biophysics Group, University of Sydney, Topic: Chloride and Amine transport systems in Chara corallina.
1980-1986: Research Fellow, School of Botany, University of Cambridge, England, Topic: Mechanism of transport in Characean cells.
1986-1991: Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, Biophysics Group, University of Sydney, Topic: Mechanism of solute transport across the membranes of charophyte plant cells: characterisation and kinetic studies.
1992: Appointed Lecturer in Physics, University of NSW
1994: Tenure granted
1995: Promoted to Senior Lecturer
2014: Retired and became Visiting Senior Lecturer in School of Physics
2015: Biophysics courses terminated.
2016 to present: Visiting Senior Lecturer with Prof. Joe Wolfe in School of Physics, UNSW
My background is in physics. I research electrical properties of membranes surrounding living plant cells. Many life processes involve moving ions in and out of the cell. Electrical potential difference (PD) across the membrane can be measured and controlled. The ionic currents flowing through multitude of specific transport systems (protein molecules imbedded in the lipid bilayer) show characteristic PD dependencies. Such current-voltage (I/V) characteristics allow modeling of different transporters, such as the proton pump, the large conductance K+ channels, inward and outward rectifiers, Ca2+ - activated Cl- channels, OH- transporters, amine uniport, Cl-/2H+ symporter and non-selective cation channels. I have also investigated and modelled the plant action potential (AP). The experiments are performed on two types of giant-celled algae: (i) the Characeae are related to ancestor of all land plants and provide a good model for them; (ii) Ventricaria (Valonia) ventricosa represent the other branch of green algae with very different cell structure and transport systems. My group has developed and refined electrophysiological techniques and apparatus.
2019: Award for publication excellence:
Journal Title: Cell
Publication Title: The Chara Genome: Secondary Complexity and Implications for Plant Terrestrialization
UNSW eligible author: Dr Mary Beilby
Award amount: $500
I am rebuilding my apparatus at home, so I can continue my research into electrical properties of plant cells.
I am collaborating with colleagues, Dr. Vadim Volkov (University of Moscow) and Dr. Virginia Shepherd (University of Western Sydney), on reviewing the important electrical signal, the action potential, across all kingdoms of life.
I am part of a collaboration on molecular identity of characean OH- transporter with colleagues from Buffalo, USA, and Salzburg, Austria. The paper is currently under review in journal Protoplasma.
I am writing a guide on electrophysiology for ecologists on request from Dr. Susi Schneider, the president of the charophyte society.