Adrienne E Clarke AC FAA FTSE
Laureate Emeritus Professor
The University of Melbourne
Professor Clarke’s research is in the field of plant molecular biology. She is a founder of Hexima Ltd, an Australian company focused on control of fungal disease and agricultural biotechnology.
She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
She was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia in 2004. She served as Chairman of the CSIRO Board (1991-1996), Lieutenant Governor of Victoria (1997-2000) and Chancellor of La Trobe University (2011–2017).
What is your job and what do you love most about it?
After a career as a research scientist and serving on many company and Government boards, I am now spending more time helping support science and young scientists. It is wonderful to see the creativity and energy of the young scientists who are making such contributions to discovery and innovation.
What led you to go into a career in STEM?
Firstly, it was having a wonderful maths and physics teacher at school. Secondly, it was being taken on a school excursion to The Great Barrier Reef when I was a teenager. The sight of the world under the sea was just amazing to me. I wanted to find out and learn how this was all possible and how it came to be. That set me on the path of biology and chemistry.
What do you envision as the future of women in STEM and how do you hope to contribute to that?
There is no doubt that the women have the talent and the drive to excel in STEM. Often the demands of child bearing and rearing have made it difficult to keep the momentum of a career. The current generation is more one of shared parenting and domestic responsibilities, which really helps women who take up the challenge of a career in STEM. Also, work places are acknowledging the needs and flexibility to support women at his stage of their careers.
What advice would you give to young girls interested in STEM?
Go for it!! It is the most exciting work I can imagine.
What is an unexpected or cool fact about you?
Hmm. Hard to say. Maybe it is that for many years (forty or so) a group of friends made during my life in science and I have walked and skied together all over the world. We still do!