Plenary speaker biographies

Professor Nam Hai Chua FRS
Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, Singapore

Nam-Hai Chua has made many original contributions to plant cell and developmental biology. He discovered the D2 protein and other chlorophyll–protein complexes related to the photosystem II reaction centre. With others, he demonstrated that the small subunit of RuBisCo is synthesised as a precursor on free cytoplasmic ribosomes and uncovered many of the details of its subsequent transport into the chloroplast. His laboratory demonstrated that the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S promoter can be used to transcribe heterologous coding sequences in transgenic plants. This strong, constitutive promoter has become an important tool in basic plant biology research and is also widely used to express transgenic traits in crops. 
His current work on the control of gene expression in transgenic plants is laying the groundwork for new advances in plant breeding. Nam-Hai serves as scientific adviser to companies and government-related organizations in several countries.

Dr Bernie Fanaroff
Square Kilometre Array, South Africa

Dr Bernard Fanaroff was the Project Director of the South African Square Kilometre Array Telescope Project from its inception in 2003. He stepped down at the end of 2015 and now works half-time as an adviser to the project. He holds a BSc Hons in Physics from the University of the Witwatersrand, a PhD in Radio Astronomy from Cambridge University and honorary doctorates from six South African universities.  
He has been awarded the national Order of Mapungubwe.  He is a Visiting Professor in Physics at Oxford University, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and a founding member of the Academy of Science of South Africa. He is the first author of the Fanaroff-Riley system for classifying radio galaxies and quasars. 
In 1994 he was appointed Deputy Director General in the Office of President N R Mandela and the Head of the Office for the Reconstruction and Development Programme and was from 1997 the Deputy Director General in the Secretariat for Safety and Security, Chairman of the Integrated Justice System Board and Chairman of the Inter-Departmental Steering Committee for Border Control, and later the Special Adviser to the Minister for Safety and Security until 2001. 
He was for seventeen years National Organiser and National Secretary of the Metal and Allied Workers Union and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and was a member of the Central Executive Committee of COSATU (Congress of South African Trade Unions). 
He has served on the boards of the national electricity utility Eskom SOC and the South African National Biodiversity Institute. 

Professor Jenny Graves
La Trobe University, Australia

Jenny Graves is an evolutionary geneticist who works on Australian animals, including kangaroos and platypus, devils (Tasmanian) and dragons (lizards). Her group uses their distant relationship to humans to discover how genes and chromosomes and regulatory systems evolved, and how they work in all animals including humans. Her laboratory uses this unique perspective to explore the origin, function and fate of human sex genes and chromosomes, (in)famously predicting the disappearance of the Y chromosome. Jenny received her BSc and MSc from Adelaide University, then a Fulbright Travel Grant took her to the University of California at Barkeley, where she completed her PhD in molecular biology. She joined La Trobe University (Melbourne) in 1971 and worked there for many years before moving to the Australian National University (Canberra) in 2001, where she founded the Comparative Genomics department and directed the ARC Centre of Excellence in Kangaroo Genomics. She returned to La Trobe as Distinguished Professor in 2011, and also is Professor Emeritus at ANU, Thinker-in-Residence at Canberra University and Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Jenny has produced three books and more than 400 research articles. She has received many honours and awards, including the Academy’s Macfarlane Burnet medal in 2006 and an AO in 2010. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and was on the Executive for 8 years, first as Foreign Secretary, then as Education Secretary with responsibility for the Academy's science education projects. She is 2006 L’Oreal-UNESCO Laureate for Women in Science.

Professor CNR Rao FRS
Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, India

Chintamani ‘C. N. R.’ Rao is a structural chemist who has made valuable contributions to the study of solid-state materials. A leading figure in the field of nanoscience, he has conducted important analytical work on graphene and carbon nanotubes to examine their potential for use in future devices.
Over the past five decades, Chintamani’s sustained research in the domain of material science has improved our understanding of a number of physical phenomena, including high-temperature superconductivity and colossal magnetoresistance. He was also amongst the first to synthesise two-dimensional oxide layers, such as lanthanum cuprate, that are critical to the functionality of high-temperature superconductors.
Chintamani is one of India’s most internationally respected scientists and has received fellowships and awards from countries across the globe. A former President of India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, in 2013 he received India’s highest civilian award, becoming only the third scientist to do so in its history.

Professor Janet Rossant FRS
University of Toronto, Canada

Janet Rossant is a developmental biologist who uses cellular and genetic techniques to study how genes control the development of early embryos, along with the processes that result in the specialisation of stem cells. Among her many achievements in this field has been the discovery of a new type of stem cell.
By studying how cell fate is determined in mouse embryos, Janet’s research is improving our understanding of how to maintain and differentiate stem cells. This knowledge can then be applied to the development of human stem cells into cell types with applications in the study of cell biology and disease.
Janet has received many awards for her research, including the 2004 Killam Prize for Health Sciences of the Canada Council for the Arts and the prestigious Ross Harrison Prize of the International Society of Developmental Biologists in 2013. In addition, she served as the President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research in 2013, and is an active contributor to various scientific and ethical discussions on stem cell studies.