The Australian National University (ANU) congratulates Professor Jenny Graves AO, one of Australia’s leading evolutionary geneticists, on winning this year’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for her pioneering work to unravel the mysteries of the genetics of sex.
Professor Graves, who is an Emeritus Professor at ANU and a Distinguished Professor at La Trobe University, led research that revealed how sex chromosomes work and how they evolved, predicting the decline of the male chromosome.
She said the $250,000 prize recognised, as well as 30 years of work at La Trobe, the work she did at ANU through the Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics from 2003 to 2010.
“I love science because it’s a never-ending detective story,” Professor Graves said.
“I also think the life of science is tremendously fun. It’s full of interesting people who you interact with in the lab.”
Professor Graves works on Australian animals, including the kangaroo and platypus, using their distant relationship to humans to discover how genes, chromosomes and regulatory systems have evolved.
Her research has helped reveal how all animals, including humans, have evolved and how they function.
“Australia’s pouched and egg-laying mammals are a fantastic source of genetic variation because they last shared a common ancestor with placental mammals so long ago,” Professor Graves said.
“They are truly independent experiments in mammalian evolution.”
Professor Graves’ work has used marsupials and monotremes, birds and lizards, to understand the complexity of the human genome and to reveal new human genes.
ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC congratulated Professor Graves for winning this year’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.
"This award is a tremendous honour for Jenny and acknowledges her important work to help revolutionise our understanding of how animals have evolved," Professor Schmidt said.
“The whole ANU community congratulates Jenny on this outstanding achievement.”