Dr Ritesh Mewalal, a postdoctoral research associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORLN) and a recent FABI PhD graduate, reunited with his FABI family to deliver a special seminar on April 22. Dr Mewalal started a postdoctoral fellowship under the supervision of Prof. Gerald Tuskan at ORLN, which is a division of the United States Department of Energy, after completing his PhD study last year and therefore could not deliver his prestige seminar. His lecture, "Can the collective metabolic inertia of plants move us closer to a bio-based economy?" focused on his PhD research project and his current work at ORLN.

Dr Mewalal completed his PhD degree under the supervision of Prof. Zander Myburg, the head of the Forest Molecular Genetics research group, Dr Eshchar Mizrachi of the Department of Genetics, and Prof. Shawn Mansfield of the Department of Wood Science at the University of British Columbia in Canada. His study "Functional characterisation of cell wall-related proteins of unknown function (CW-PUFs) in Arabidopsis thaliana" sought to identify CW-PUFs – considered the missing link for secondary cell wall development – in the genus Eucalyptus and to functionally characterise these genes in Arabidopsis.