Passing on a love of plant biology

Dr Alison Kellow brings a love of plant biology to her role as Lecturer in the Department of Environment and Genetics

As a botanist for more than 30 years, Dr Alison Kellow brings a love of plant biology to her role as Lecturer in the Department of Environment and Genetics.

“I have been a botanist my whole career, working in many different areas such as plant molecular biology and in herbariums. I bring this breadth of research experience, and love of plants, to my teaching role at La Trobe.”

Dr Kellow says understanding plants is essential to many fields of biology and environmental sciences.

“I think all good field biologists and ecologists should know how plants work in the environment, as

well as be able to identify them and understand relationships,” she says.

Dr Kellow describes herself as a hands-on learner and teacher.

“I understand how important engaging lab classes and field trips are for students. I love that my role is mainly lab and field-based teaching. I always try to make sure the experiments are well designed, and assessment tasks are authentic, so students can see the relevance to their future careers, while also learning scientific thinking.”

Dr Kellow is continually inspired by the dedication of her students.

“I am always inspired by the passion of students in my classes, and the greatest reward is to help them on their way; whether that means supporting students who may be having difficulties, or offering extension activities to those who want to go the extra mile.”

Dr Kellow is also the curator of La Trobe’s Herbarium, a collection of more than 25,000 vascular plant specimens.

“My role as herbarium curator involves supporting staff and research students in collecting herbarium specimens, overseeing data quality, and supervising a team of (mostly student) volunteers who take care of data entry and specimen preparation.”

“I love being able to provide extended learning for student volunteers through the herbarium. I particularly love the time of year when I get to mark second year botany students’ herbarium assignments. Herbarium specimens are highly relevant to botanical and ecological research so this is a fantastic skill to learn and is great for honing plant identification skills.”