Melanie Best
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Melanie Best

I’m so vein!

Plant Scientist
School of Natural Sciences,
University of Tasmania

Have you ever looked at something and asked “Why?” Asking ‘Why’ is the reason many people becomes scientists, including me. I also like talking about science to people, believe me, you probably know more science then you realise!

When I started studying at university I wanted to research human diseases and disorders, but instead I became fascinated by plants! Plant physiology is like human physiology – we have a lot of similar parts inside us! As a physiologist I am interested in how things in a body work, in this case it’s plants. My main interest has been how leaf veins and the plant leaf itself changes in response to changes in their environment, and what triggers a plant species to adapt to its environment.

Plants, like people have specialised organs: they need a transport system; they need a way to breathe, and they need a way to make energy. You have veins to transport blood – and plants have veins too. Plants also breathe through their leaves to take in carbon dioxide, like your mouth and nose are used to bring oxygen into your body. Leaves also contain the “powerhouse” of the plant, chloroplasts, which allow plants to process sunlight and turn it into energy to grow, just like you get energy from animal’s powerhouse, the mitochondria.


For more information about my work: