Historical Records of Australian Science Historical Records of Australian Science Society
The history of science, pure and applied, in Australia, New Zealand and the southwest Pacific

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Geoffrey Bruce Sharman 1925-2015

HUGH TYNDALE-BISCOE , Jennifer Graves

Abstract

Geoff Sharman was one of the most important figures in the post-war renaissance of research into the indigenous mammals of Australia. He discovered the remarkable phenomenon of delayed development, or embryonic diapause, in kangaroos. He pioneered marsupial cytogenetics, making seminal contributions to chromosome evolution, sex determination, and X chromosome dosage compensation in female marsupials. He inspired a whole generation of younger biologists to make the investigation of Australian mammals the primary objective of their professional careers. Fifty years before he began there had been a brief but highly fruitful period of investigation into the native fauna based at the University of Sydney Medical School . When the four pioneers departed to Chairs in Britain and Fellowship of the Royal Society, further research in the field languished until the 1950s. Sharman’s research built on that pioneering work, particularly of JP Hill and his associates on the reproductive anatomy and development of marsupials, and then extended it into the new field of cytogenetics.

HR17011  Accepted 13 July 2017

© Australian Academy of Science 2017