Graham Farquhar is a plant scientist who investigates processes from the nanoscale mechanisms of photosynthesis to the global exchanges of gas between vegetation and the atmosphere. His models of how plants use water have directly led to the development of drought-resistant wheat.
Using simple physical models, Graham explained how plants allocate water to photosynthesis, the light-driven process that generates carbohydrates. His insight that water use efficiency is related to the absorption of different carbon isotopes helped agronomists to breed wheat that yields more biomass than conventional strains in dry years.
The first to measure the global exchange of water and carbon dioxide between plants and the environment, a crucial factor in climate change, Graham joined the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the mid-1990s. He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2013, and in 2014 received the Macfarlane Burnet Medal of the Australian Academy of Sciences.