Jocelyn Pennefather (O’Neil)

STEMM Profile: Jocelyn Pennefather (O’Neil) | Associate Professor – now retired | Monash University | Melbourne | VIC

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“To me the most important legacy is seeing the successful scientific careers and lives of many of my past students”

I am a pharmacologist; graduating from the University of Sydney with an Masters of Science then a PhD (1961). My experience has included studies related to the development of new drugs, and assessment of the reasonable and safe uses of drugs and chemicals.

After completing my PhD I was awarded a Riker International Post Doctoral Fellowship, which I took up at the University of London. Following the birth of my first child while in England, I worked part-time at several universities before joining the Dept of Pharmacology established at Monash University in 1976.

On retiring as Associate Professor within the Faculty of Medicine at Monash University (Clayton) in 2000, I held honorary appointments at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Melbourne and in the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Biology, Monash University, Parkville.

I have had the privilege of teaching pharmacology and toxicology to undergraduate students at the Universities of Sydney, London, Minnesota, Melbourne and Newcastle as well as at Monash University where I also served on a number of Monash University and Faculty Committees and as Deputy Head of the Pharmacology Department.

I have published (as Pennefather) over 120 papers which include reports of our recent research into regulation, by hormones and the nervous system, of genito-urinary health. This has been in collaboration with colleagues here and in Spain and a number of the over 50 Honours and graduate students I have supervised.

I am a consultant to the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Pharmacology and have acted as a reviewer for 25 scientific journals. I am a life member of ASCEPT and a retired member of BPS. Currently I am involved with the Graduate Women Victoria Scholarships Program targeting disadvantaged female students at Victorian Universities.

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful scientist?

A passion for the pursuit of knowledge for the public good.

What support structures did/do you have in place that have facilitated your success?

Firstly, that given by my family including my parents, husband and children and those who helped us to look after our children when they were small. No maternity leave was then available. Secondly, the generous encouragement given to me by several Heads of Departments. One actually lent me his research equipment when he went on study leave and I was a part-time member of Department staff with my first NHMRC grant! Thirdly, that given by my research colleagues and students.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful leader?

Enthusiasm, confidence, competence, inclusiveness.  A key attribute is to respect, support and acknowledge team members at all levels.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

Nothing, except perhaps say no to serving on too many committees.

What are you most proud of in your science career?

To me the most important legacy is seeing the successful scientific careers and lives of many of my past students.