Vice-Chancellor's Fellow and Distinguished Professor Jenny Graves AO
Professor Graves is the first La Trobe academic to win Australia’s most coveted prize for science, the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science. She is also the first woman to be individually recognised by this prize. It places her in outstanding company; previous winners include Australian scientists who helped eradicate smallpox, developed the wireless internet and developed the first cancer vaccine.
Her research uses the genetic diversity of Australia’s unique mammals such as the kangaroo, emu and platypus to study how the mammal genome works and how it evolved.
Her life’s work has used marsupials and monotremes, birds and lizards, to understand the complexity of the human genome and to reveal new human genes.
She has transformed our understanding of how sex chromosomes work and how they evolved, predicting the decline and disappearance of the Y chromosome. Her research has contributed to a deeper understanding of many human genes, including those of the immune system, prion diseases and blood proteins. Her work helps to understand the tumour driving the Tasmanian devil to extinction.
Professor Graves has longstanding commitments to women in science, and science education. She won the 2006 international L’Oreal UNESCO prize for women in science, and served as both foreign secretary, and secretary for education in the Australian Academy of Science.
As VC Fellow, Professor Graves will work with La Trobe scientists to integrate genomics into traditional fields of animal biology, ecology and conservation. She will act as a role model and figurehead for La Trobe’s initiatives (including SAGE) to attract more women into STEM disciplines and into senior roles in those disciplines. She will also more broadly help promote women in science.