James Cowley

Dr James Cowley

Internal Grant-Funded Researcher (B)

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


I am an early career researcher currently working as a Food Product Development Fellow for the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine. The goal of our program is to complement University of Adelaide's plant breeding programs by developing new and innovative food products and processes for these breeding outputs. We also aim to support researchers and industry with analytical capability and academic research in the food quality and nutrition space.

Several food samples arranged on a table for presentation

I have expertise in the areas of 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. Following my PhD I worked for three years on an ARC Linkage Project developing breeding and characterisation technologies for psyllium (Plantago ovata).

My research interests are focussed on the valorisation of novel andA basil seed is stained bright pink with a chemical called ruthenium red. A jelly layer is released from the seed surface that resembles thousands of tiny fingers. underutilised crops including Plantago, Salvia, industrial hemp and sorghum. We know our favourite novel crops could never replace wheat or rice, but I am interested in how we could supplement traditionally nutrient-poor staples like bread or pasta with these incredibly nutrient-dense seeds that could 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
    2023 Co-Supervisor Exploring Functional Attributes and Value-Add End Uses of Australian Faba Bean Varieties Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Miss Matilda Rose Cormack
    2022 Co-Supervisor Biotransformation of Functional Polysaccharides Doctor of Philosophy under a Jointly-awarded Degree Agreement with Doctorate Full Time Ms Lucija Strkalj
    2022 Co-Supervisor Determinants and analysis of seed size and quality of Cannabis sativa L. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Benjamin Lee McGorm
    2022 Co-Supervisor Nutri-priming; A study on its effects on hemp physiology, epigenetic memory, and stress tolerance development. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Zane Marks
    2022 Co-Supervisor Superfood or Superficial: investigating health benefits of novel plant extracts and the accuracy of superfood health claims. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Jacqueline Paige Barsby
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2022 - 2022 Co-Supervisor Characterisation of Salvia verbenaca growth and seed mucilage under water deficit The University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time Nicole Crowhurst
    2021 - 2022 Principal Supervisor Investigating the medicinal crop potential of Australian native Plantago The University of Adelaide - Honours Part Time Jared Vandersluys
    2021 - 2021 Principal Supervisor The role of oxidative stress in seed priming to improve germination and vigour The University of Adelaide - Honours Full Time Zane Marks
  • Position: Internal Grant-Funded Researcher (B)
  • Phone: 83137181
  • Email: james.cowley@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: Plant Genomics Centre, floor Level Two
  • Org Unit: Food Science

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