Joan Mary Anderson 1932–20151
Joan Mary (Jan) Anderson pioneered the investigation of the molecular organisation of the plant thylakoid membrane, making seminal discoveries that laid the foundations for the current understanding of photosynthesis. She grew up in Queenstown, New Zealand, obtaining a BSc and MSc at the University of Otago in Dunedin. After completing her PhD at the University of California, she embarked on a glittering career at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and then Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. Not only a gifted experimentalist, Jan was a creative thinker, not afraid to put her insightful and prophetic hypotheses into the public domain. Her many notable achievements include establishing the details and the physiological significance of lateral heterogeneity in the distribution of the two photosystems between stacked and unstacked thylakoid membranes and the dynamic changes in the extent of stacking that occur in response to changes in the light environment. Her investigations brought her into collaboration with prominent researchers throughout the world. Recognised with many honours as a leading scientist in Australia, international recognition included Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society of Photosynthesis Research, and Honorary Fellowships at Universities in the UK and USA.