Professor Frances Separovic FAA

Photo of Professor Frances Separovic FAA 2018

Professor Frances Separovic FAA is a pioneering biophysical chemist who has made a significant contribution to the Australian and international chemistry communities and the promotion of women in science.

Frances’ influential body of work has appeared in over 200 peer-reviewed publications. This includes her development of solid state nuclear magnetic resonance technology to determine the structure and dynamics of molecules in biological membranes, with a focus on peptide antibiotics and toxins.

As a woman in a male-dominated field, Frances has achieved many firsts: the first woman to become an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne in 1996; the first woman to become a Professor of Chemistry in Victoria in 2005; the first woman to head the School of Chemistry at the University of Melbourne in 2010; and the first woman elected as a chemist to the Australian Academy of Science in 2012.

Frances demonstrates leadership in her field, having organised over 40 major conferences and holding senior roles in professional societies such as the International Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics, the Biophysical Society (USA), and the International Society for Magnetic Resonance. She is a role model and leader for women in science who advocates for gender equity and supports female colleagues and students. Since the beginning of her academic career, over half the students graduating with PhDs in chemistry under her supervision have been women.

Her innovative research has been recognised by national and international awards including the Australian Society for Biophysics Robertson Medal in 2009 and the Australian & New Zealand Magnetic Resonance Medal in 2011. In 2017, Frances was named a Distinguished Woman of Chemistry by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Frances is an inspirational change agent and innovative scientist who actively promotes women in science, and continues to have a significant impact in the field of biophysical chemistry.