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Jennifer Doudna: My Life in Science

21 May 2024
10.30am – 12.00pm AEST
Leighton Hall, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Kensington
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Jennifer Doudna | Merlin Crossley

I had been told that girls don’t do science. And fortunately, I ignored that.

Jennifer Doudna, Nobel Prize Winner

Join us for an inspiring journey with Jennifer Doudna, a scientific pioneer whose revolutionary CRISPR discovery earned her the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and forever transformed genetic research. Her work allows scientists to edit DNA – the code of life – and opens up a new era of revolutionary advances in medicine and agriculture while posing profound ethical questions.

In an exclusive event for UNSW staff and students, Nobel Laureate Jennifer Doudna will discuss with Merlin Crossley the mentors who fuelled her scientific passion, the collaborations that led to her incredible discoveries, her experience as a leading woman in STEM, and how her Innovative Genomics Institute is enabling equitable access to CRISPR technology.

This event is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and UNSW Science.


Leighton Hall is located inside the John Niland Scientia Building at UNSW Sydney's Kensington campus. Please note this is a live event only, and will not be available via livestream.   





Wheelchair Access
The closest accessible drop off point to Leighton Hall is via Gate 11, Botany Street. More information on getting there can be found via our interactive accessibility map available here.

Assisted Listening
Leighton Hall has hearing assistive technology available. Patrons wishing to utilise this service must collect a Roger™ inductive neck loop receiver from the venue staff, and this system can be used with a hearing aid or cochlear implant with a T-coil, or with headphones.

Auslan & Captioning 
Auslan interpreting services and/or live captioning can be provided for selected talks upon request.

To book and discuss access services, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email


Leighton Hall (John Niland Scientia Building) is easily accessible via public transport and the closest light rail stops are UNSW High Street (L2 line) or UNSW Anzac Parade (L3 line). For more information please call the Transport Infoline on 131 500 or visit

Paid casual and visitor parking is offered via the CellOPark App and ‘pay by plate meters’ in all other UNSW car parks. The Botany St Car Park (Gate 11) parking station is the closest to the venue, and is located hereFor more information head here



For all enquiries, please email or call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485.

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9065 0485. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9065 0485. For more information on all other relay calls visit here.

Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna

Founder & Chair of the IGI Governance Board

Dr Jennifer A. Doudna is the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair and a Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Her groundbreaking development of CRISPR-Cas9 as a genome-engineering technology, with collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, earned the two the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and forever changed the course of human and agricultural genomics research.  

This powerful technology enables scientists to change DNA – the code of life – with a precision only dreamed of just a few years ago. Labs worldwide have re-directed the course of their research programs to incorporate this new tool, creating a CRISPR revolution with huge implications across biology and medicine.  

In addition to her scientific achievements, Doudna is a leader in public discussion of the ethical implications of genome editing for human biology and societies, and advocates for thoughtful approaches to the development of policies around the safe use of CRISPR technology.  

Doudna is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes, and the founder of the Innovative Genomics Institute. She co-founded and serves on the advisory panel of several companies that use CRISPR technology in unique ways.  

She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Doudna is also a Foreign Member of the Royal Society, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and has received numerous other honours including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2015), the Japan Prize (2016), Kavli Prize (2018), the LUI Che Woo Welfare Betterment Prize (2019), and the Wolf Prize in Medicine (2020). Doudna’s work led TIME to recognize her as one of the “100 Most Influential People” in 2015 and a runner-up for “Person of the Year” in 2016. She is the co-author of A Crack in Creation, a personal account of her research and the societal and ethical implications of gene editing. 

Merlin Crossley wearing a lab coat

Merlin Crossley

Merlin Crossley is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Quality at UNSW Sydney. He is a molecular biologist, specialising in human genetic diseases. He is also an enthusiastic lecturer and science communicator who contributes frequent articles on science, education, and policy. He undertook his BSc at the University of Melbourne, majoring in genetics and microbiology, moved to Oxford University supported by a Rhodes Scholarship, and then did post-doctoral research at Oxford and Harvard. He joined UNSW in 2010. In 2022 Merlin was appointed member of the Ethics Committee of Australian Red Cross Lifeblood and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Australian Sickle Cell Advocacy group. Merlin was recognised for his services to education and molecular biology with a 2023 King’s Birthday Honour, and made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia, whilst also recognising his work has been a team effort.