Professor Marilyn Renfree

Marilyn is a reproductive and developmental biologist whose research has focussed almost entirely on marsupials not only because of their intrinsic interest but also for the opportunities they provide as biomedical models for understanding mammalian reproduction and development (although elephants, women, sheep and mice have also had a look-in in her research career). Her laboratory is known internationally for its study of the reproduction and development of marsupials that have resulted in a number of discoveries that challenged the accepted dogma in several areas including early mammalian development, physiological and molecular control of embryonic diapause, placentation, sexual differentiation, virilisation and genomic imprinting as well as conservation and evolution and even bringing a gene from the extinct Tasmanian Tiger back to life! She has also been involved in genome studies of the platypus, koala and led the tammar wallaby genome project. She is an enthusiastic mentor and was awarded the Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers. Marilyn graduated from the Australian National University then had a Fulbright Fellowship at University of Tennessee and a Ford Foundation Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh, then academic staff appointments at Murdoch University, an NHMRC Fellowship at Monash University before her appointment as the Ian Potter Chair of Zoology and Head of Department at The University of Melbourne from 1991 -2003. She was awarded an ARC Federation Fellowship 2003-8, was Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Kangaroo Genomics from 2008-10 and was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia on Australia Day January 2013. She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences in 1997 and served as Vice President and Secretary, Biological Sciences from 2011-2015. She is currently a Laureate Professor of the University of Melbourne.