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Prestigious fellowships for Monash researchers


A biochemist and a plant geneticist from Monash University are among researchers who have today been announced as Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS).

Every year the Academy honours the work of Australia’s leading scientists with election to its Fellowship. Professor Jamie Rossjohn from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Professor John Bowman from the School of Biological Sciences, were both nominated by their peers for their outstanding contributions to science.

The Academy promotes science through education, public awareness, policy and international initiatives. The Fellowship is awarded to scientists with a “career that has significantly advanced the world’s store of scientific knowledge.”

Professor Rossjohn, who is also an NHMRC Australia Fellow, was elected for his research into the structural basis for T cell recognition of foreign antigens, which has had a profound impact on our understanding of immune recognition, particularly in autoimmunity and drug and food hypersensitivities.

“It is very humbling for my research to be recognised in this manner. This recognition arises from the findings that my collaborators, researchers and I, have made in the field of T-cell immunology. Such findings would not have been possible without the support of the Australian Research Council, National Health and Medical Research Council and the Cancer Council Victoria. Moreover, the long standing encouragement and support of Monash University, who have provided an outstanding environment for my team and I, has been a key factor in being able to undertake high profile science,” Professor Rossjohn said.

As a member of the team that was recently awarded funding to establish the ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging, Professor Rossjohn said he is poised to undertake new lines of investigation in the field of immune recognition at Monash.

“Access to major national infrastructure, such as the National Synchrotron, has also been crucial for us to maintain a competitive edge internationally,” Professor Rossjohn said.

Professor John Bowman is a plant geneticist based in the School of Biological Sciences. He was elected for his highly original discoveries that have revealed the genetic basis of three fundamental processes in plant development.

“I’m honoured to be elected to the Australian Academy of Science’s Fellowship. I knew I’d been nominated but I was a little surprised to hear I’d been elected. It’s a great honour to be recognised by my peers in this way,” Professor Bowman said.

“Over the course of my career, my research has focused on learning about the genetics and evolution of plants, in an attempt to learn more about the world we live in. Nobody could have predicted that this work would have led to potential practical applications, but our recent discoveries may contribute to developing a new type of hybrid seed which could have a significant impact in agriculture.”

As a result of his current research, Professor Bowman is now a Scientific Advisor to the Gates Foundation, which aims to produce a new type of seed to farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa to increase crops and reduce famine.

Professors Rossjohn and Bowman will be admitted as Fellows at ‘Science in the Shine Dome’, the Academy’s annual celebration in Canberra in May, where they will also present summaries of their research achievements.

Other researchers from Monash University who have been recently elected Fellows of the AAS include Professor Doug MacFarlane (2007), Professor Charles Mackay (2009), Professor Trevor Lithgow (2010), Professor Joe Monaghan (2011), Professor Bryan Williams (2013), and Professor Yuri Estrin (2013).

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