Jan M. Anderson
Professor Jan M. Anderson FRS
Jan Anderson was a plant biochemist who studied the molecular basis of photosynthesis, the process by which living things convert solar energy into chemical energy. Her research was the first to separate plant photosynthetic membranes into two fractions with different properties — thereby proving that photosynthesis required two different molecular machines and corresponding light reactions to operate.
Jan also put forward a unifying theory to explain how the second molecular machine — photosystem II — is deactivated when there is too much light. Together, her research into how photosynthesis works might help pave the way for a synthetic equivalent, allowing for the cheap, solar-powered generation of hydrogen gas from water.
Jan received many awards in acknowledgement of her work, including being elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science in 1987 and the Royal Society in 1997. She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society of Photosynthesis Research in 2007 and made an Australian Laureate in Animal and Plant Science in 2004.
Interests and expertise