(science communicator, reproductive and developmental biologist)
Professor of Science Communication in the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago. She also teaches and researches in reproductive and developmental biology, in the Department of Anatomy & Structural Biology, Division of Health Sciences. Jean trained in Biochemistry at Victoria University of Wellington, but developed a lifelong interest in reproductive biology while completing an MSc and PhD at the University of Otago’s Wellington School of Medicine. Her research on activin and inhibin gene expression in the fecund Booroola sheep led to the award of the first Zonta International Medal for Women in Science in 1990. Jean’s current research focuses on how repeated ovulation increases a woman’s risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer, by contributing to ovarian inclusion cyst formation. In 2000-2001 Jean was a Commissioner with the New Zealand Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. She is known internationally for her talks on the role of scientists in the community, the relationships between science and business and the magic of a life in science. She is an enthusiastic mentor and promoter of science to young people, has been a long-term supporter of women in science and convened Otago’s Hands-on Science from 2000-2005. She was also Chair of the Programme Committee for the first Dunedin International Science Festival in 1998. Her commitment to taking her science to the community has led to the award of a Suffrage Medal in 1993, a Royal Society of NZ Silver Science & Technology Medal in 1998 and an ONZM for services to science in 2002.