The first female Professor of Chemistry in Queensland, Mary Garson, has been awarded the Royal Australian Chemical Institute's prestigious Leighton Memorial Medal in recognition of her valuable contributions and leadership to the chemistry community within Australia and overseas.
"I am delighted to be awarded the 2011 Leighton Memorial Medal in this International Year of Chemistry and I hope that winning this prize will encourage other women to nominate for professional recognition," Professor Garson said.
A highly cited author and talented university teacher, Professor Garson's main area of research is the chemistry, ecology and biological activity of molecules from marine organisms, but she also explores the medicinal chemistry of South-East Asian plants.
Professor Garson's career started with studies at the University of Cambridge, before undertaking postdoctoral research in Italy, where she learned to speak and write fluent Italian.
After working as a medicinal chemist in the United Kingdom, Professor Garson came to Australia in 1983.
She moved to The University of Queensland in 1990, and has been a Professor of Chemistry in the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences since 2006.
In another form of recognition, Professor Garson also shares her name with a new flatworm species – the Maritigrella marygarsonae – which was discovered during a field trip to the University's Heron Island Research Station.
Professor Garson has held many leadership roles, from the Presidency of the Queensland branch of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute to Chair of the Board of Australian Science Innovations, and she has just been announced as President-Elect of the Division of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry within the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
Earlier this year, Professor Garson created and led a global networking breakfast entitled "Women Sharing a Chemical Moment in Time" as a pre-launch event for the International Year of Chemistry in which more than 5000 women chemists in more than 40 countries participated, making this one of the largest (virtual) gatherings of women scientists ever held.