Graham Farquhar is a Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology in the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University. He is a plant physiologist/biophysicist recognized for his studies of photosynthesis and transpiration, with broad applications to agriculture, ecology and earth systems science. Farquhar was born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1947 and grew up mainly in Melbourne, with a two and a half year stint (1958-60) in Ithaca, NY, at a formative stage. After a physics and mathematics degree from Monash and ANU, he made a transition to biophysics with an Honours year at the University of Queensland, followed by a Ph.D. at the ANU (1973), and three year’s post-doctoral experience at Michigan State’s DoE-funded Plant Research Laboratory. He joined the faculty at ANU in 1976. From 1970 to 1987 he was active, part-time, in ballet, modern dance and dance-theatre. Farquhar was a science advisor and Australian delegate at the third Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC in 1997. He was Vice-President (B) of the Australian Academy of Science from 2007-2011.

Research Interests

Farquhar develops and applies models of leaf functioning. These include the biochemical and biophysical limitations of photosynthesis, the gas exchange of water vapour and carbon dioxide through stomatal pores, carbon isotope discrimination in C3 and C4 species, and genetic variation in water-use efficiency, as well as isotope enrichment in oxygen and hydrogen of leaf water and organic matter. His linking of variation in carbon isotope composition and transpiration efficiency has provided a new tool for breeders and led to the development of wheat varieties for dry areas. His equations are also widely applied in earth systems science. His recent interests extend to large-scale issues of global change, including evaporative demand, precipitation and run-off, and effects on plants of increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Farquhar is also interested in how crop yields can be increased.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 63: Environmental Sciences and Ecology

Secondary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology