Dr Zavafer Zavaleta Fernandez de Cordova

PhD (Plant Sciences, the Australian National University, 2016)
Postdoctoral Researcher
ANU College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Agricultural Biotechnology 3001
  • Biochemistry And Cell Biology 3101
  • Industrial Biotechnology 3106
  • Plant Biology 3108
  • Biological Physics 510501
  • Plant Physiology 310806
  • Analytical Chemistry 3401
  • Sensor Technology (Incl. Chemical Aspects) 340108
  • Metabolomic Chemistry 340106
  • Chemical Thermodynamics And Energetics 340602
  • Photochemistry 340606

Research interests


Open Instrumentation

Optics and Bioptics


Algal Biology



My name is Alonso (Zavafer) Zavaleta Fernández de Córdova and am currently an Assistant Professor at Brock University, Canada and a Research Associate at the Australian National University (ANU). I am a biophysicist and instrument developer focusing in the field of phenomics (phenotype driven research of genotypes). I completed my PhD in Plant Sciences (ANU, 2016) and hold a Bachelor of Science (grade 9.8/10, Autonomous National University of Mexico). My initial research interest focused on basic research but branched into applied topics. My first research outputs were on photo-oxidative stress in plants and demonstrated the existence of multiple photosensitisers in photosynthetic organisms. This was important, since light is indispensable for plants to survive, yet it can also damage them and impact their fitness. With LEDs becoming the new standard light sources, the existence of such photosensitisers can compromise growth if precautions are not taken. My research has revealed that photodamage in algae and plants is higher at the blue-UV region. This makes blue LEDs, as well as white LEDs (which are based on blue LEDs), hazardous for use in controlled environments at high irradiances and demonstrates that they seldom mimic sunlight adequately. Thanks to my solid basic research training, I have branched in an applied line focusing on optical methods and instruments for phenomic research. The solid knowledge on techniques and methods to probe stress in plants in a non-invasive manner has allowed me to develop new sensory techniques.

I have four years of postdoctoral experience in academia and industry with 13 published/accepted articles, of which I am first/corresponding author in eleven and middle author in two. In addition, I have obtained over 350,000 USD in grants and fellowships. I have experience supervising students at different levels, including PhD. I have a comprehensive international experience (four postdoctoral positions at Australian National U., Technion, U. Technology Sydney, and yet again at ANU) and an international network of collaborators in 11 countries. In addition to the postdoctoral experience, I spent part of my PhD at the Laboratory of Biophysics, Wageningen University (Netherlands), and the School of Material Sciences, University of Nagoya (Japan). Besides, my honours research project was developed at the Laboratory of Bioenergetics, University of Geneva (Switzerland). I have been guest speaker at other institutions, the most recent being a lecture on instruments development for science students at Pepperdine University (September 2020). I am also a guest editor in two journals, Photosynthesis Research and Functional Plant Biology.

Researcher's projects

Raman spectroscopy applied to plant biology with emphasis in water relations

Photoinhibition of plants and algae

Algal Phenomics


Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  13 April 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers