B AppSci. (1st class Honours) CSU, PhD (Molecular Biology) CSIRO Plant Industry/CSU, Grad Cert (Uni Teach&Learn) CSU, Grad Cert (Uni Lead.&Man), CSU
Professor Blanchard completed a BAppSc degree at Charles Sturt University (CSU) before undertaking a PhD in molecular biology with CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra, studying the genome of plant viruses and investigating ways to genetically engineer virus resistant plants.
On completion of his postgraduate studies Professor Blanchard worked as a molecular biologist at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Lausanne, Switzerland before taking up a position as a postdoctoral fellow at the CSIRO Grain Quality Research Laboratory.
Professor Blanchard joined CSU in 1998 as Lecturer in Food Science in the School of Wine and Food Science. He was promoted to the position of Senior Lecturer in Food Science and moved to the School of Biomedical Sciences in 2008.
Professor Blanchard has served on the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Cereal Chemistry Division committee since 1999 and chaired the committee for 2 years (2005-2007). In 2006 he was admitted as a Member Chartered Chemistry of the royal Australian Chemical Institute. In 2009 he Chaired the Australian Cereal Chemistry Conference.
In 2008 Professor Blanchard was appointed as a member of the Grains Research and Development Southern Regional Panel.
Professor Blanchard's central teaching philosophy is to provide an educational experience that will provide students with the opportunity to achieve the prescribed learning goals and develop a deep understanding of the subject material as well as develop life long learning skills so that the learning experience will continue after the subject is complete. To achieve this he offers a flexible learning environment that includes psychodynamic, behavioural and cognitive learning experiences to cater to the variation that exists in the way students learn. He has a particular passion for the use of new technologies to achieve this flexible learning environment.
2005: Faculty of Science and Agriculture Teaching Excellence Award
During my research career I have worked on a range of research projects. These projects have focused on my areas of interest which are molecular biology and grain science:
During my honours and PhD research projects I conducted research into the characterisation of cucumovirus subgenomic RNAs. This research resulted in a better understanding of the small RNAs associated with plant viruses.
My second postdoctoral position involved studying the way that T-cell receptor proteins interact with other molecules. This involved cloning T-cell receptor genes, changing the protein sequencing by site directed mutagenesis, and testing the binding function of the mutated proteins. Using this information coupled with computer modelling, a proposed model was developed to explain how T-cell receptor molecules bind to other molecules.
The research I was conducting during my second postdoctoral position was aimed at understanding what role different wheat proteins have in controlling dough rheology. A model dough system was developed using purified flour components and these components were reconstituted in various combinations to assess the role of the different constituents. This research led to a better understanding of which proteins are important for producing high quality dough for baking.
Since commencing employment at CSU I have conducted research that aims to increase both rice yield and quality. To achieve these goals I used my primary training in molecular biology to understand, at the genetic level, what controls rice yield and quality. Some of the rice projects I have been involved in are described below.
Understanding rice starch structure
A multidisciplinary approach has been taken to develop a greater understanding of the role starch structure plays in determining rice quality. This work was mostly funded by a Rice CRC grants and a number of honours and summer scholarships. The breakthroughs made in these projects include:
The quality of rice changes rapidly during storage. This process is termed ageing. This project characterised the changes that occur during this process and discovered that different varieties age at different rates. A method has also been developed for accelerating or decelerating this process. An understanding of rice ageing will help maintain the value of rice during storage by reducing the decrease in quality caused by this ageing process.
Understanding what controls cold sterility
Cold sterility refers to the development of sterility in plants (resulting in the production of no grain) due to the effects of low temperature. It is a major cause of yield loss in the Australian rice industry and thought to be caused by a breakdown in the metabolism of sugar into pollen grains. We have recently identified a sugar metabolism enzyme that is sensitive to low temperatures. This discovery may lead to solving the cold sterility problem.
Developing ways to decrease chemical residue
Pesticides used in rice farming can impact on the sustainability of rice farming and reduce the value of rice products. One of my PhD students (Kahli Weir) discovered a bacterium that can breakdown one of the chemicals found in rice fields and has isolated the gene that produces the enzyme responsible for its degradation. This discovery may lead to an environmentally friendly commercial product for removing such chemicals from the environment.
Understanding the role of proteins in quality
Relatively little attention has been given to the role protein plays in determining rice quality. Our studies have shown that the role protein plays in determining rice functionality is important and complicated. Previously it was though that simply the amount of protein in a rice grain was the important parameter for determining the effect of protein on rice quality. Our studies have shown that the different types of proteins in a rice grain have different effects on quality. This information will be useful for breeding rice with specific protein compositions for specific qualities.
Quality assessment of rice based products
I have developed a close association with research staff at SunRice. I am currently assisting them in a range of projects aimed at assessing quality attributes of rice products. Protocols have been developed for the analysis of products including rice cakes, rice noodles and partially milled rice used in breakfast cereals
Developing new tools for discovering genes controlling quality
The future in understanding the complexities of the rice plant and improving future cultivars relies upon understanding the genome of the rice plant. One approach to improving this understanding is to systematically isolate and characterise genes from the rice genome. This area of research is called functional genomics. We have developed an improved system for systematically characterising genes using a process called DNA tagging. This new system will speed up the process of developing an understanding of the function of all the genes in the rice genome.
In addition to my major focus on rice production, I am also participate in other research projects within the university. I have been involved with supervising 2 honours students studying grapevine fungal pathogens. I have also been collaborating with a colleague to study sequence variation in abalone and other mollusc species. I supervised a PhD student studying the molecular basis of human disease. More recently my research has turned towards the understanding of the quality aspects of Australian grown pulses.
The following table summarises my research student involvement
|Andrew Eamens||PhD||Principal||Molecular Basis of Rice Quality||Completed|
|Sandra Oliver||PhD||Principal||Investigation of cold sterility in rice||Completed|
|Ella Whitelaw||PhD||Principal||Rice lipids||Completed|
|Graeme Baxter||PhD||Associate||Rice proteins and sensory quality||Completed|
|Zhong Kai Zhou||PhD||Associate||Rice Ageing||Completed|
|Kahli Weir||PhD||Associate||Bioremediation with recomb. protein||Completed|
|Aisuo Wang||PhD||Associate||Molecular taxonomy of molluscs||Completed|
|Lily Truong||PhD||Associate||Understanding Smith Magenis Syndrome||Completed|
|Shaun Curtin||PhD||Principal||Gene silencing||Completed|
|Clive Kirkby||PhD||Associate||Effect of nutrient level on formation and retention of stabilised organic matter in soils.||Feb 2007 -|
|Siem Siah||PhD||Principal||Health properties of Pulses||April 2008 -|
|Miriam Lei||Prof. Doc||Principal||Multiplex PCR detection of pathogens||Completed|
|Sandra Oliver||Honours||Principal||Variation in Rice SSS genes||Completed|
|Siong Tan||PhD||Associate||Functional properties of canola meal||October 2010 -|
|Ella Whitelaw||Honours||Principal||Investigations of debranching enzymes||Completed|
|Michelle Duffy||Honours||Associate||Polymorphic sequences in abalone||Completed|
|Anthony Burge||Honours||Associate||Novel transformation techniques||Completed|
|Ru Huang||Honours||Associate||Analysis of grapevine pathogens||Completed|
|Pam Proven||Honours||Associate||Sequencing of abalone mitochondrial DNA||Completed|
|Shaun Curtin||Honours||Principal||Genetic diversity of Colletoctricum sp||Completed|
|Siem Siah||Honours||Principal||Aging characteristics of Australia Rice||Completed|
|Rebecca Cook||Honours||Associate||Mechanisms of glyphosate resistance||Completed|
|Yit Fe Chan||Honours||Associate||Understanding Smith Magenis Syndrome||Completed|
|Ben Overden||Honours||Principal||Rice seedling vigour||Completed|
|Francois Lauvray||Visitor||Principal||Effect of storage on rice aroma||Completed|
|Andy Boyd||Visiting |
|Principal||A study of rice proteins||Completed|
|Delphine Riviere||Vising |
|Principal||Analysis of gene variation using Hi-Res |
|Maxime Gabard||Visiting |
|Principal||Sensory analysis or aged rice||Completed|
|Melanie Bornet||Visiting |
|Principal||Analysis of aroma quality||Completed|