Megan Shelden

Dr Megan Shelden

Senior Lecturer

School of Agriculture, Food and Wine

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

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

Megan is a Senior Lecturer / Mortlock Fellow at the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide. She gained her PhD in Plant Biology at The University of Adelaide and is a previous recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award.

Her research is focussed on improving crop yields in hostile soils (salinity, drought) and enhancing food security. Of particular interest to her is the ability of the root system to adapt to abiotic stress and maintain growth, increasing root soil exploration for nutrient and water uptake. Her expertise includes root biology, plant physiology, plant biochemistry, molecular biology and functional genomics. Her current research aims to identify the molecular mechanisms that control and regulate root growth in response to salinity using barley as a cereal model. The knowledge gained in barley will provide important information for increasing salinity tolerance in other Australian cereal crops, most notably wheat.

Megan has been an active member of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists serving on the committee as a discipline representative for the past four years. She is active in promoting STEM to the wider community through events such as National Science Week and is passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion. She hopes to inspire the next generation of plant and agricultural scientists through her teaching at the University of Adelaide.

Current Students

Ms Zhale Hekmati

Completed Students

Ms Ying Meng

Dr Apriadi Situmorang


Megan’s research interest is focussed on understanding environmental stress tolerance mechanisms in agricultural crops.  Environmental stresses such as drought and soil salinity cause major crop yield losses in agriculture, significantly impacting on agriculture sustainability. Soil salinity is estimated to affect more than 800 million ha of land (FAO, 2008). Currently, 67% of the land affected in Australia is in the cereal (wheat, barley) growing regions, particularly impacting south-western and south-eastern Australia. Dryland salinity significantly reduces crop yields and is estimated to cost the Australian farming industry around $1.5 billion a year.

Two major factors are driving the need to improve agricultural yields.  The first is climate change, which means that wheat and barley are grown in increasingly hostile environments with soil salinity and drought both expected to increase this century, reducing the availability of arable land. The second is the increase in global population, expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. An increase in global agriculture productivity will be needed to meet the increase in demand for global food supply. 

Megan's research is aimed at understanding the mechanisms that allow crop root systems to adapt to salinity and drought, thereby maintaining root growth and increasing soil exploration for nutrient and water uptake. Her current research aims to identify the molecular mechanisms that control and regulate root adaptation in response to salinity using barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) as a cereal model. This research will allow the identification of root traits that can be incorporated into breeding programs to develop higher-yielding salt-tolerant crops.


Salt Tolerance in Grapevines

Megan is also using grapevine as a model system to understand salt and water movement through plant systems; from the root to shoot. She aims to answer the question of how salt moves across the different tissues and major organs, how salt accumulates in root, leaf and shoot cells, and how movement and accumulation is controlled by the diversity of transport mechanisms operating in plants. This will be incorporated into biophysical models, to quantify the movement of salt through plant organs, tissues and cells, from root to leaf.


  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2022 - ongoing Senior Lecturer/ Mortock Fellow University of Adelaide
    2020 - 2021 Lecturer The University of Adelaide
    2019 - 2020 Research Fellow The University of Adelaide
    2014 - 2019 ARC DECRA Fellow University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2013 Research Fellow University of Melbourne
    2007 - 2009 Postdoctoral Fellow Australian National University
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2023 Deakin University Australia Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (Learning and Teaching)
    2008 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
    1994 - 1997 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Honours)

ARC Discovery Project (2022 - 2025); Finding the missing links in salt and water transport in plants.

ARC Discovery Project (2020 - 2023); Root-to-shoot: modeling the salt stress response of a plant vascular system.

ARC DECRA Fellow (2014 - 2017); Getting to the root of salt-tolerance in the model cereal crop, barley.

PRIF Catalyst Research Grant (2015 - 2016); Screening for salt-tolerance in wheat using impedance spectroscopy: A novel technique to reveal performance of the hidden half.

I contribute to teaching in: 

Foundations in Plant Science II

Viticulture II /A

Horticulture, Production and Quality III


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

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2023 Principal Supervisor Finding the Missing Links in Salt and Water Transport in Plants Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Zhale Hekmati
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2017 - 2023 Co-Supervisor The Role of GABA in Plant Salinity and Hypoxia Responses Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Ying Meng
    2015 - 2019 Co-Supervisor Elucidation of the Ammonium Major Facilitator (AMF) Family in Plants Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Apriadi Situmorang
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2017 - 2019 Representative Australian Society of Plant Scientists Executive Discipline Cell Biology Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2015 - ongoing - Society of Experimental Biology -
    1998 - ongoing Member Australian Society of Plant Scientists -
  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 83136652
  • Email:
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: Plant Research Centre, floor 1
  • Org Unit: Agricultural Science

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