Adrienne Clarke

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Adrienne Clarke

Chancellor of La Trobe University
In office
26 February 2011 – 26 February 2017
Preceded bySylvia Walton
Succeeded byRichard Larkins
Lieutenant Governor of Victoria
In office
Preceded bySir James Gobbo
Succeeded byLady Southey
Chair of CSIRO Australia
In office
5 December 1991 – 4 December 1996
Preceded byNeville Wran
Succeeded byCharles Allen
Personal details
Adrienne Elizabeth Petty

(1938-01-06) 6 January 1938 (age 82)
Melbourne, Victoria
EducationUniversity of Melbourne;
Baylor University;
University of Michigan
AwardsOfficer of the Order of Australia (1991)
Companion of the Order of Australia (2004)
Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science;
Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Auckland;
University of Melbourne;
CSIRO Australia

Adrienne Elizabeth Clarke AC FAA FTSE (née Petty, born 6 January 1938) is Professor Emeritus of Botany at the University of Melbourne, where she ran the Plant Cell Biology Research Centre from 1982–1999. She is a former chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, 1991–1996), former Lieutenant Governor of Victoria (1997–2000) and former Chancellor of La Trobe University (2011–2017).


Born in Melbourne, Clarke reports she experienced some sexism as a bright student in the 1950s.[1] She attended Ruyton Girls' School and entered the University of Melbourne in 1955 where she was a resident of Janet Clarke Hall (then still part of Trinity College) reading Science.[2] She graduated with an Honours degree in Biological Sciences in 1959, and gained her PhD in 1963.[3][4] She married Charles Peter Clarke on 14 August 1959.[5]

In 1964 she became a research fellow at the United Dental Hospital of Sydney, then moved to Baylor University in Houston and the University of Michigan, later teaching at the University of Auckland. She worked at the University of Melbourne as Research Fellow (1969–1977), then lecturer, senior lecturer and reader before being appointed Professor of Botany in 1985 and Laureate Professor in 1999. She retired from the University in 2005.

Clarke is a former chairman of CSIRO (1991–1996) and a former Lieutenant Governor of Victoria (1997–2000). She is a Fellow of Janet Clarke Hall at the University of Melbourne.[6] In 2010 she joined the La Trobe University Council, and succeeded Sylvia Walton as Chancellor of La Trobe University on 26 February 2011.[1]

She has also been involved in the commercial sector; she was a director of a number of public companies and sat on a number of boards, including Western Mining, Alcoa, Fisher and Paykel, Woolworths and the AMP Society. She was also a member of the Australian Advisory Board of the Global Nature Conservancy. In 1998, in association with three University of Melbourne colleagues, she founded the agribusiness Hexima.[1]


Clarke's scientific work provided critical insight to the biochemistry and genetics of flowering plants, their reproduction, and their growth. It led to industrial applications for next-generation controls of insect pests and fungal disease of crops. Her team was the first to clone the gene which regulates self-compatibility in plants and the first to clone the "c" DNA of an Arabinogelactan Protein.

She describes her expertise as:

  • The molecular basis of self-incompatibility
  • The chemistry and biology of a class of proteoglycans, the arabinogalactan-proteins
  • Proteinase Inhibitors and their use in control of insect development [7]

She is author of four major scientific books dealing with chemistry, cell biology and genetics.

Honours and awards[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Clarke, Adrienne (1938 – )". The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  2. ^ "Salvete 1955", Fleur-de-Lys, Nov. 1955, p. 31.
  3. ^ "Celebration stirs memories and rekindles old friendships", 3010: Melbourne University Magazine Archived 30 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine, June 2014, p. 32.
  4. ^ "Laureate Prof Adrienne Clarke AC". RiAus (Royal Institution of Australia). Archived from the original on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Holy Matrimony", Fleur-de-Lys, Nov. 1959, p. 7.
  6. ^ "Fellows". Staff and Governance. Janet Clarke Hall, The University of Melbourne. 2012. Archived from the original on 10 April 2013. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
  7. ^ "Professor Adrienne Clarke". Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  8. ^ FTSE, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
  9. ^ Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), 10 June 1991, It's an Honour. For service to science and industry,particularly through the application of biotechnology.
  10. ^ Centenary Medal, 1 January 2001, It's an Honour. For outstanding community service, especially as Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria.
  11. ^ Victorian Honour Roll of Women 2017. Melbourne: Office of Prevention & Women’s Equality. 2017. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7311-6655-8.
  12. ^ Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), 26 January 2004, It's an Honour. For service to science and academia as a leading international researcher, for the application of economic benefit to scientific discovery, and for mentoring future leaders.

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir James Gobbo
Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria
Succeeded by
Marigold Southey
Business positions
Preceded by
Neville Wran
Chair of CSIRO Australia
Succeeded by
Charles Allen
Academic offices
Preceded by
Sylvia Walton
Chancellor of La Trobe University
Succeeded by
Richard Larkins