Matthew Morell

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Matthew Morell

Matthew Morell is IRRI’s director general with decades of leadership experience driven by a passion for scientific excellence, an understanding of private-public partnerships, a sound capacity for stakeholder engagement, protection of intellectual property, and people engagement skills.

As director general, Matthew is the institute’s chief executive officer (CEO), directly managing and administering its affairs in accordance with the policies and decisions of the IRRI Board of Trustees. He sets the institute’s strategic direction in close consultation with the board.

Prior to assuming the role of director general, Matthew was deputy director general for research, providing strategic leadership to IRRI’s research and outreach programs across various dimensions of rice science, including climate change-ready rice, healthier rice varieties, environmentally sustainable crop farming systems, farmer-friendly crop management and value chain practices, timely and accurate provision of rice information, capacity building, and building the next generation of rice scientists.

Prior to his senior management roles at IRRI, Matthew was theme leader for 17 years at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) where he led a research program on Future Grains and Plant Oil Production.

Matthew also has extensive experience in identifying, protecting, and managing intellectual property, as well as establishing a means for strong compliance with the requirements of gene technology regulations, genetic modification stewardship, and occupational health and safety legislation. He holds a PhD in agricultural chemistry from the University of Sydney, and did postdoctoral studies at the University of Michigan and the University of California, Davis and served as research fellow at the Australian National University. Matthew is also a Fellow of the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC), the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), and of the International Association for Cereal Science and Technology (ICC Academy).


  • Biochemistry and genetics
  • Public-private partnership
  • Intellectual property management
  • Stakeholder engagement


  • PhD in Agricultural Chemistry, University of Sydney, 1985
  • BSc in Agriculture, major in Agricultural Chemistry (First Class Honours), University of Sydney, 1981


  • Director General, IRRI (December 2015-present)
  • Deputy Director General for Research, IRRI (2014-December 2015)
  • Theme Leader (Future Grains, Grain-Based Food and Feed), Food Futures National Research Flagship, CSIRO (2006-2014)
  • Program Leader, CSIRO Plant Industry (2000-2006)
  • Sub-Program Leader, CSIRO Division of Plant Industry (1997-2000)
  • Research Fellow, Australian Research Council, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University (1992-1997)
  • Research Fellow, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University (1987-1992)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Davis (1984-1985) and Michigan State University (1985-1987)


  • Director, American Association of Cereal Chemists International


  • Fellow, American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC), 1998
  • AACC Phil Williams Applied Research Award, 2011
  • CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement, Barleymax Team, 2010
  • CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement, Land Plant Omega-3 Team, 2010
  • CSIRO Medal for Business Excellence, Barleymax Commercialisation Team, 2010
  • CSIRO Medal for Business Excellence, Wheat Genetics Team, 2010
  • Grains for Health Foundation, Team Award, CSIRO Future Grains Program, 2010
  • Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), 2010


  • Member, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
  • Member, American Association of Cereal Chemists
  • Member, Australasian Grain Science Association


  1. Luo J, Jobling SA, Millar A, Morell MK, Li Z. 2015. Allelic effects on starch structure and properties of six starch biosynthetic genes in a rice recombinant inbred line population. Rice 8:15.
  2. Regina A, Berbezy P, Kosar-Hashemi B, Li S, Cmiel M, Larroque O, Bird AR, Swain S, Cavanagh C, Jobling SA, Li Z, Morell MK. 2015. A Genetic Strategy Generating Wheat with Very High Amylose Content. Plant Biotechnol. J. In Press.
  3. Golley S, Corsini N, Topping D, Morell M, Mohr P. 2015. Motivations for avoiding wheat consumption in Australia: results from a population survey. Public Health Nutr. 18:490-499.
  4. Ahmed Z, Tetlow IJ, Regina A, Morell MK, Emes MJ. 2015. Protein–protein interactions among enzymes of starch biosynthesis in high-amylose barley genotypes reveal differential roles of heteromeric enzyme complexes in the synthesis of A and B granules. Plant Sci. 233:95-106.
  5. Belobrajdic DP, Jobling SA, Morell MK, Taketa S, Bird AR. 2015. Wholegrain barley β-glucan fermentation does not improve glucose tolerance in rats fed a high-fat diet. Nutr. Res. pii: S0271-5317(14)00285-1. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2014.12.006.
  6. Patten GS, Kerr CA, Dunne RA, Shaw JM, Bird AR, Regina A, Morell MK, Lockett TJ, Molloy PL, Abeywardena MY, Topping DL, Conlon MA. 2015. Resistant Starch Alters Colonic Contractility and Expression of Related Genes in Rats Fed a Western Diet. Digestive Dis. Sci. In Press.
  7. Shrestha AK, Blazek J, Flanagan BM, Dhital S, Larroque O, Morell MK, Gilbert EP, Gidley MJ. 2015. Molecular, mesoscopic and microscopic structure evolution during amylase digestion of extruded maize and high amylose maize starches. Carbohydrate Polymers 15(118):224-234.
  8. Whan A, Dielen AS, Mieog J, Bowerman AF, Robinson HM, Byrne K, Colgrave M, Larkin PJ, Howitt CA, Morell MK, Ral JP. 2014. Engineering α-amylase levels in wheat grain suggests a highly sophisticated level of carbohydrate regulation during development. J. Exp. Bot. 65:5443-5457.
  9. Wu AC, Ral JP, Morell MK, Gilbert RG. 2014. New perspectives on the role of α- and β-amylases in transient starch synthesis. PLoS One 9(6):e100498. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100498. 
  10. McMaugh SJ, Thistleton JL, Anschaw E, Luo J, Konik-Rose C, Wang H, Huang M, Larroque O, Regina A, Jobling SA, Morell MK, Li Z. 2014. Suppression of starch synthase I expression affects the granule morphology and granule size and fine structure of starch in wheat endosperm. J. Exp. Bot. 65:2189-2201.
  11. Rebetzke G, Verbyla A, Verbyla K, Morell M, Cavanagh C. 2013. Use of a large Multiparent Wheat Mapping Population in Genomic Dissection of Coleoptile and Seedling Growth. Plant Biotechnol. J. In Press.
  12. Wu AC, Morell MK, Gilbert RG. 2013. A Parameterized Model of Amylopectin Synthesis provides Key Insights into the Synthesis of Granular Starch. PLOS One. In Press.
  13. Cavanagh CR, Chao S, Wang S, Huang BE, Stephen S, Kiani S, Forrest K, Saintenac C, Brown-Guedira GL, Akhunova A, See D, Bai G, Pumphrey M, Tomar L, Wong D, Kong S, Reynolds M, da Silva ML, Bockelman H, Talbert L, Anderson JA, Dreisigacker S, Baenziger S, Carter A, Korzun V, Morrell PL, Dubcovsky J, Morell MK, Sorrells ME, Hayden MJ, Akhunov E. 2013. Genome-wide comparative diversity uncovers multiple targets of selection for improvement in hexaploid wheat landraces and cultivars. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 110: 8057-8062.
  14. Ral JP, Bowerman AF, Li Z, Sirault X, Furbank R, Pritchard JR, Bloemsma M, Cavanagh CR, Howitt CA, Morell MK. 2012. Downregulation of glucan, water-dikinase activity in wheat endosperm increased vegetative biomass and yield. Plant Biotechnol. J. 10:871-882.
  15. Huang BE, George AW, Forrest KL, Kilian A, Hayden MJ, Morell MK, Cavanagh CR. 2010. A Multiparent Advanced Generation Inter-Cross population for genetic analysis in wheat. Plant Biotechnol. J. 10:826-839.

Matthew Morell
Dr. Matthew Morell

Director General

International Rice Research Institute
Los Baños, Laguna

63 2 580 5600
ext. 2211