Dr Liz Dennis AC FA FTSE—elected an International Member of the National Academy of Sciences
Professor Lisa Kewley FAA— elected an International Member of the National Academy of Sciences
Professor Suzanne O'Reilly AM FAA—a new rare mineral, oreillyite (Cr2N), has been named in her honour by the International Mineralogical Association.
Professor Jeremy Pickett-Heaps was born in India to Australian parents and educated at Geelong Grammar. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in natural sciences/biochemistry in 1962 and a PhD in biochemistry in 1965 from Cambridge University. Professor Pickett-Heaps joined the then John Curtin School of Medicine at the Australian National University and then transferred to the newly established Research School of Biological Sciences. In 1970, he was appointed Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado. Professor Pickett-Heaps returned to Australia in 1988 as Professor of Botany at the University of Melbourne, where he remained until his retirement in 2002.
Professor Pickett-Heaps was elected to the Academy in 1992 and to the Royal Society in 1995 for his contributions to cell biology. He pioneered the use of autoradiography at the electron microscope level and was the first to demonstrate the role of the Golgi apparatus in processing and delivering polysaccharides. In the process he discovered, documented and named the ‘Pre-prophase Band’ of microtubules, with its still-mysterious property of predicting the site and plane of division in plant cells, a crucial aspect of plant development. Professor Pickett-Heaps originated the seminal concept of the microtubule organising centre, thus founding a major field of research. His work led to a novel view of evolutionary relationships in the algae and the origin of higher plants. He made many important contributions to knowledge of microtubule formation, dynamics and interactions with chromosomes in the mitotic spindle during cell division, from which new hypotheses on the mechanism of mitosis have been generated. In recognition of his work, several of this colleagues and friends named a most unusual green alga after him, Microrhizoidea pickettheapsiorum.
Professor Pickett-Heaps was particularly interested in video microscopy, and established a laboratory devoted to filming cells and microorganisms. With his wife, Julianne, he founded ‘Cytographics’ and produced a range of exceptional teaching and research videos that have thrilled and inspired generations of undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as microscopists and naturalists the world over. Some of his videos can be seen on his YouTube channel.
Professor Pickett-Heaps served on several Academy committees.
This video, made and narrated by Professor Pickett-Heaps, is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of Dictyostelium—a cellular slime mold. It has received more than 162,000 views on YouTube.
© 2022 Australian Academy of Science