I’m an plant ecophysiologist interested in understanding the impacts of warming and drought on plant function and ecosystem dynamics. I received a Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science) in 2014 followed by a BSc (Honours) in 2015 from Western Sydney University. I began my PhD in 2018 at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment under the supervision of Professors David Tissue, Belinda Medlyn, Sally Power and Brendan Choat. My PhD research was conducted as part of the “Pastures and Climate Extreme (PACE)” project which examined how predicted climate scenarios (i.e. rainfall and temperature extremes) affect the productivity and resilience of pasture systems in coming decades. My research primarily investigated species-specific differences in key physiological traits associated with gas exchange and hydraulic function in a variety of widely cultivated pasture species, and identified the response of these traits to predicted increases in temperature and drought. This research aimed to provide a more mechanistic understanding of species and ecosystem level responses to abiotic stress and allow for the identification of more resilient pasture species.
My current position as a post-doctoral fellow, under the tutelage of Distinguished Professor Ian J Wright, is part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture. My research is aimed at better understanding physiological adaptations to heat and water stress in target clades of Australian Andropogoneae grasses with a primary focus on water relations and gas exchange.
Areas of research/teaching expertise
I’m primarily a plant ecophysiologist and my areas of research include plant water relations, leaf hydraulics, photosynthesis, stomatal behaviour and leaf morphology, specifically in monocots (in both C3 and C4 plants). I’m experienced in analysing plant anatomy, leaf gas exchange and using optical methods to measure hydraulic vulnerability.
During my PhD, I led practicals for the Climate Change Science unit on the analysis of leaf gas exchange using the LI6400 XT Portable Photosynthesis System.
Awards and recognition
2018 – Australian Government Research Training Program (AGRTP) Stipend Scholarship for undertaking a PhD at Western Sydney University
Jacob V, Choat B, Churchill AC, Zhang H, Barton CV, Krishnananthaselvan A, Post AK, Power SA, Medlyn BE, Tissue DT, (2022) ‘High safety margins to drought-induced hydraulic failure found in five pasture grasses’, Plant Cell & Environment (doi: 10.1111/pce.14318)
Churchill AC, Zhang H, Fuller KJ, Amiji B, Anderson IC, Barton CV, Carrillo Y, Catunda KL, Chandregowda MH, Igwenagu C, Jacob V, Kim GW, Macdonald CA, Medlyn BE, Moore BD, Pendall E, Plett JM, Post AK, Powell JR, Tissue DT, Tjoelker MG, Power SA, (2022) ‘Pastures and Climate Extremes: Impacts of Cool Season Warming and Drought on the Productivity of Key Pasture Species in a Field Experiment’, Frontiers in Plant Science, 0, p. 484
Zhang H, Powell JR, Plett JM, Churchill AC, Power SA, Macdonald CA, Jacob V, Kim GW, Pendall E, Tissue D, Catunda KM, Igwenagu C, Carrillo Y, Moore BD, Anderson IC, (2021) 'Climate warming negates arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal reductions in soil phosphorus leaching with tall fescue but not lucerne', Soil Biology and Biochemistry, vol.152, Article no.108075
Zhang H, Powell JR, Power SA, Churchill AC, Plett JM, Macdonald CA, Jacob V, Kim GW, Pendall E, Tissue DT, Catunda KLM, Igwenagu C, Carrillo Y, Moore BD, Anderson IC, (2021) 'Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal-mediated reductions in N2O emissions were not impacted by experimental warming for two common pasture species', Pedobiologia, vol.s 87-88, Article no.150744
Jacob V, Zhang H, Churchill AC, Yang J, Choat B, Medlyn BE, Power SA, Tissue DT, (2020) 'Warming reduces net carbon gain and productivity in medicago sativa l. And festuca arundinacea', Agronomy, vol.10, no.10, Article no.1601
Aspinwall MJ, Jacob V, Blackman CJ, Smith RA, Tjoelker MG, Tissue DT, (2017) 'The temperature response of leaf dark respiration in 15 provenances of Eucalyptus grandis grown in ambient and elevated CO2', Functional Plant Biology, vol.44, no.11, pp 1075-1086