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Susan Irene Blackburn

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Blackburn Susan.jpg

Awarded for service to Science

Born: 27 July 1953

Entered on roll: 2011


Susan Blackburn was born in Hobart on 27 July 1953.

Susan attended the University of Tasmania (UTAS) where she gained her Bachelor of Science in botany and zoology, achieving First Class Honours in limnology and phycology.  She was awarded her PhD in the biodiversity of global populations of microalgae in 1981.

Susan is recognised internationally for her research and expertise in microalgae, microscopic plants that are critical to the health of marine and freshwaters.  Susan heads the Australian National Algae Culture Collection (ANACC) and leads related research on microalgal diversity, life cycles, ecophysiology, population dynamics, harmful algal blooms, culturing and bioapplications including biofuels and omega-3 oils at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (CMAR) in Hobart.

In 26 years with CSIRO, Susan has developed the ANACC from a fledgling bank of 150 living microalgae strains to include more than 1 000 strains sourced from tropical Australia to Antarctic waters.  Promoting applications of microalgae, the CSIRO Microalgae Supply Service provides cultures to 60 countries.  Susan presents on the ANACC and its research at conferences, symposia and workshops and she is currently President Elect of the International Society for Applied Phycology.

Susan has supervised post graduate students with UTAS during the past 15 years and supported their early research careers.  Her international reputation as a leader in microalgae research attracts overseas students to UTAS.  Susan also participated in the Women in Science in Secondary Schools initiative to encourage girls to participate in science in southern Tasmania.

Susan has written more than 100 publications, including peer-reviewed manuscripts, and invited book chapters and she is an inventor on successful patent applications.   She has given hundreds of conference presentations.  Susan is part of the team that was awarded the CSIRO 2010 Research Achievement Medal for research on alternative and sustainable source of omega-3 oils using microalgal genes.

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