By Mikayla Keen
Contrary to popular belief watching grass grow is awesome.
For Rasha Kardo it won her the opportunity to visit CSIRO’s High Resolution Plant Phenomics Centre. The HRPPC is a high-tech research hotel which studies plant function and performance under controlled conditions (in the lab) and in the field.
Rasha, a South Australian secondary student, was the student winner of the 2012 Battle of the Plants – a national battle to grow the biggest, greenest, meanest Brachypodium plant (the equivalent of a lab rat for plant scientists). Rasha wasn’t able to outgrow CSIRO’s Richard Poiré whose job entails growing many thousands of ‘Brachy’ a year.
“It was a close call, Rasha really gave me a run for my money, but luckily my Brachy was the biggest,” Richard said. “Having Rasha in the lab for a week was a great experience.”
Rasha was able to experience every aspect of the Centre, from meeting the Director to helping Richard collect seeds for the 2013 Battle of the Plants.
“I was quite surprised they weren’t all biologists. It’s an amazing team of all sorts of scientists, students and engineers working together on global issues like world hunger,” Rasha said.
“Working with instruments like PlantScan, which the team built and helping out with different projects was a real eye opener, biology has so many applications.”
Rasha has come full circle. Her Battle of the Plants adventure began and ended with a seed and a pot of dirt.