James Cowley

Dr James Cowley

ARC Grant-Funded Researcher (A)

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.


I am an early career researcher with expertise in plant science and food science. I recently (Oct 2020) completed my PhD in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine under the supervision of Prof. Rachel Burton and Dr Tina Bianco-Miotto where I explored natural variation in the seed composition of the Plantago genus as a source of novel food ingredients and nutritional supplements. Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Researcher developing breeding and characterisation technologies for elite psyllium (P. ovata) varieties through an ARC Linkage Grant with Dr Schär, Europe's largest gluten-free food manufacturer.

More broadly my research interests are focussed on the valorisation of novel and underutilised crops including Plantago, Salvia, industrial hemp and sorghum. We know our favourite plants could never replace wheat or rice, but I am interested in how we could supplement nutritionally-poor staples like bread or pasta with these incredibly nutrient-dense seeds that can be produced on marginal lands of Australia. I also have a keen interest in the relationship between dietary fibre structure and both in food and in vivo functions.

I am very passionate about science education, science communication (follow me on twitter at @jamesmcowley!) and citizen science. In 2017, I was honoured to be recognised by the University of Adelaide for my work with Children's University's Regional Lecture Series program and awarded the Vice Chancellor's Student Volunteer of the Year Award. Watch the video below by Children's University Australia where I talk about study, making mistakes and following your passion.

  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2018 Scholarship Farrer Memorial Travelling Scholarship Australia
    2018 Scholarship Barr Smith Travelling Scholarship in Agriculture University of Adelaide Australia
    2018 Award 2017 Student Volunteer of the Year Award The University of Adelaide Australia
    2016 Scholarship School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Honours Scholarship The University of Adelaide
    2015 Scholarship Crawford Fund Scholarship
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2017 - 2020 The University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    2016 The University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science with First-Class Honours in Plant Science
    2015 The University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Agricultural Sciences
  • Research Interests

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2022 Co-Supervisor Biotransformation of Functional Polysaccharides Doctor of Philosophy under a Jointly-awarded Degree Agreement with Doctorate Full Time Ms Lucija Štrkalj
    2022 Co-Supervisor Determinants and analysis of seed size and quality of Cannabis sativa L. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Benjamin Lee McGorm
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 - ongoing Principal Supervisor Altering diet-related metabolic and gut health with Plantago whole seed flour supplementation The University of Adelaide Honours Part Time Jared Vandersluys
    2021 - ongoing Principal Supervisor The role of oxidative stress in seed priming to improve germination and vigour The University of Adelaide Honours Full Time Zane Marks
    2020 - ongoing Co-Supervisor From plant to plate: biotransformation of functional polysaccharides The University of Nottingham and The University of Adelaide Doctorate Full Time Lucija Štrkalj
  • Position: ARC Grant-Funded Researcher (A)
  • Phone: 83136501
  • Email: james.cowley@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: Wine Innovation Central, floor 4
  • Org Unit: School of Agriculture, Food and Wine - WT

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External Profiles